The ‘head-knocking style of governance’

THE ‘HEAD-KNOCKING STYLE OF GOVERNANCE’…. RNC Chairman Michael Steele offered his perspective yesterday on how policymakers can reach agreement on reforming the health care system. It’s easy to mock his rhetoric, but it’s worth remembering how common this kind of thinking is in Republican circles.

“[I]f it’s a cost problem, it’s easy: Get the people in a room who have the most and the most direct impact on cost, and do the deal. Do the deal. It’s not that complicated.

“If it’s an access question, people don’t have access to health care, then figure out who they are, and give them access! Hello?! Am I missing something here?

“If my friend Trevor has access to health care, and I don’t, why do I need to overhaul the entire system so I can get access he already has? Why don’t you just focus on me and get me access?”

Now, it’s obvious from these remarks that Steele is clueless. He’s so lost, I almost feel bad for the guy. That said, hearing Steele’s “do the deal” remarks, it reminded me of the same, intellectually lazy approach we’ve heard from Republicans on a wide variety of issues.

In 2006, John McCain explained his solution for the war in Iraq: “One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit.'” Around the same time, George W. Bush reflected on a solution for violence in Lebanon: “What they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.”

Last year, McCain explained that we could resolve FISA-related controversies by having “patriotic Americans … sit down together and work this out.” A month before the presidential election, McCain said he had a plan to address Social Security issues: “We’ve got to sit down together across the table.”

And now Steele thinks policymakers can resolve complex health care issues if they simply “do the deal” and “give” Americans “access.”

Digby once famously described this as the “head-knocking style of governance” — complex problems can be resolved through force of will, because Republicans say so. Nuances, history, competing goals, divergent ideologies — nothing matters except “doing the deal.”

I realize it’s nice to think well-intentioned people can sit down in a room and resolve complex issues, but if policymakers could snap their fingers and fix historic challenges, they would. For those of us above the age of 11 who try to take government seriously, it’s just not that easy.