Try confidence

TRY CONFIDENCE…. In David Plouffe’s op-ed piece, advising Democrats on how best to proceed in 2010, the former Obama campaign manager urges lawmakers to “pass a meaningful health insurance reform package without delay,” adding, “It’s a good plan that’s become a demonized caricature.”

It prompted Ezra to make a good point about the nature of confidence.

You’ll notice that Plouffe doesn’t spend a lot of time hedging that “this bill is not perfect, but it’s better than nothing,” or “this bill isn’t Democrats’ first choice, but it’s still worth passing.” Instead, he says it’s a good plan that’s been spun as a bad plan, and lists a lot of what it’ll do to help families immediately. Democrats could take a lesson from that approach.

This isn’t exactly a new observation, and Dems have burdened by this bad habit for a long time. They somehow manage to win a policy fight; Republicans trash the policy; and Dems get defensive and act sheepishly about their success.

In the face of Republican hysterics, Dems, more often than not, seem a little embarrassed by their victories.

Take the stimulus package, for example. Pressed on their vote, a few too many Dems will say something like, “Well, it was a necessary evil. No one likes spending that much, but it was probably necessary.” The preferable message would be, “Of course the stimulus was a success. This recovery package — which cut taxes, created jobs, and generated growth — prevented a huge crisis. No one in their right mind could possibly think this was a mistake. For crying out loud, Republicans, who got us in this mess, wanted an insane five-year spending freeze that would have dug us into a deeper hole.”

This was quite common in Massachusetts lately. Martha Coakley, when the pressure was on, became exceedingly timid — on everything. Voters everywhere know the difference between candidates with the courage of their convictions and those who lack confidence.

The public is certainly less likely to back a health care reform bill when its leading proponents fail to give it a full-throated endorsement. The more Dems say, “You’re damn right I fought for health care reform; why didn’t you?” the more the stronger message resonates.