Kitsap Caucus

A blog about politics and government in Kitsap County as well as Washington state political news as it relates to Kitsap County.
Subscribe to RSS

Examining McKenna’s Motives

March 25th, 2010 by Steven Gardner

Two local writers dive into the motives of state Attorney General Rob McKenna in suing the federal government over the health care bill just passed. I think they both do a pretty good job, with the caveat that each is assuming there is something beyond a legitimate belief that the health care reform just passed is unconstitutional. If McKenna believes the reform law is unconstitutional, you could rightly ask what choice he had but to challenge it.

The writers, though, are probably right in making that assumption. We can never assume that meeting constitutional muster is the only issue at play in constitutional issues. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes said:

“We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is . . . “

He was also quoted by fellow justice William O. Douglas as saying 90 percent of the decisions made at the Supreme Court are based on emotions, that justices find ways in the document to back up their beliefs.

McKenna, though, seems at first blush to be the one AG in this fight with the most to lose by sticking his neck out. He’s a Republican who hasn’t been demonized by the left and is seen as a legitimate contender for the governor’s office. And yet the state is more left than right, and I think it’s not a bad bet to assume that most Washingtonians favor health care reform generally.

Let’s do assume again, as most of us have, that McKenna wants to be Washington’s governor. David Brewster at Crosscut.com offers this possibility:

Judging by the over-the-top reaction by local Democrats — talking about defunding his suit, slicing away A-G authority, even a recall — maybe McKenna was engaging in some “performance art.” That form of political craftiness consists of doing something so that your opponents fall right into the trap of extreme behavior, making you look sensible.

Then Peter Callaghan at the (Tacoma) News Tribune reminds us that to win in a November 2012 governor election, he’d first have to make it to that election, qualifying as one of the top-two vote getters in the primary. A move like this at least sets him apart from other Republicans. And if he hadn’t done it:

Had McKenna not joined the litigation he would have been savaged by Republicans and become a target of conservative talk radio. In the short term, it doesn’t hurt him much to instead be savaged by Democrats. They take their own risks by using budget maneuvers to block Mc-Kenna’s participation in the suit.

And then of course, Callaghan reveals the ultimate truth in all of this:

Anyone who claims to know how it will play in 2012 is making it up.

Tags: , , ,

Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

8 Responses to “Examining McKenna’s Motives”

  1. Emilie Says:

    So, our public servants listen to political parties and talk radio hosts instead of the residents of our state? I don’t see how McKenna can justify filing a suit against the government when propably more than half of Washingtonians feel OK with the reform bill. If he ever runs for governor, I will remember this. I used to think he was fair in all his dealings.

    Emilie
    Port Orchard, WA

  2. Registered Voter Says:

    Is there a link to the poll which indicates how Washingtonians feel about the bill?

  3. Steven Gardner Says:

    My comment said a majority of Washingtonians probably favor health care reform generally, but on March 22 KING-5 published a poll saying most people thought Congress went too far.

    http://www.king5.com/news/local/Poll-41-in-Western-WA-say-health-reform-goes-too-far-88850042.html

    It’s hard to know what to make of any poll, though. USA Today says Americans overall are happy with the bill.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-23-health-poll-favorable_N.htm?csp=hf

    This CBS piece says it best by suggesting that no one knows.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504365_162-20001041-504365.html

    I do believe Americans probably feel better about health care reform now than when it hadn’t passed yet. I also think it would have been worse for Democrats in November had they failed to pass it, but that doesn’t mean everything will be great for them in that election. It just won’t be as bad as it could have been for Democrats. Then again, who knows what message will sink in the most by then? I just can’t think of a scenario where passing the bill is worse for them than proving they couldn’t govern.

    Steven Gardner
    Kitsap Caucus blog dart thrower

  4. Jane Rebelowski Says:

    I quit giving money to the state and national Democratic Party once they endorsed NAFTA. Thanks to Rob’s purely political move to get the rabid right wing on his side, my checkbook will again open to help defeat him. I’m sure the “Don’t Retreat, Reload” crowd will be throwing plenty of money his way.

  5. Registered Voter Says:

    My comment said a majority of Washingtonians probably favor health care reform generally, but on March 22 KING-5 published a poll saying most people thought Congress went too far.

    So the above comment and opinion that more than half of Washingtonians feel OK with the reform bill are based on …?

    Even if 51% of the population agreed, why is there confusion, annoyance or unfairness when the other 49% exercise their right to speak up?

    And if one considers how citizens have reacted to Iraq, the ‘bailout’, this issue, and a host of other bills and initiatives in U.S. history, one can imagine scenarios where passing this bill could be worse for them than proving they couldn’t govern.

    Like you said, it’s not easy to know how McKenna’s choice will play in 2012, and that uncertainty also applies to the bill.

  6. Steven Gardner Says:

    RV,

    I did not write that the majority of Washingtonians “feel OK with the reform bill.” I wrote that it’s probably not a bad bet that a majority of Washingtonians “favor health care reform generally.” My assumption is based on Obama’s 2008 campaign, and his pledge then to fix health care. Presuming that health care reform was one of the reasons people in Washington voted for him, I still don’t think it’s a “bad bet” to think that Washingtonians probably favor health care generally. As for this particular bill, I’d be less inclined to make that bet.

    I’m even less certain that a majority of Washingtonians would be against McKenna’s move on the bill. I think a fair number might have high hopes that the health care bill will work, but can step back long enough to let it undergo a constitutional challenge and might even see the challenge as a good thing.

    Steven Gardner
    Kitsap Caucus blog whisperer

  7. Jane Rebelowski Says:

    @registered voter, I love the revisionist version of how the right wing of this country reacted to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Now supposedly the right wing was against it all along? B.S.

  8. Registered Voter Says:

    @blog whisperer – I know what you wrote: that’s why I quoted it. “And opinion” refers to Emilie’s comment. I didn’t expect you to answer for her piece, but don’t disagree with your point that Washingtonians probably favour changes to health care in general.

    @Jane – The only straw man revisionism taking place in this thread is yours.

    “And if one considers how citizens have reacted to Iraq, the ‘bailout’, this issue, and a host of other bills and initiatives in U.S. history, one can imagine scenarios where passing this bill could be worse for them than proving they couldn’t govern.”

    looks nothing like

    “the right wing of this country was against Iraq all along.>

    Speaking of BS.

Leave a Reply

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Is water a solid or a liquid?

Available on Kindle

Special Election

Politifact Truth-O-Meter

Kitsap Caucus Views since Jan. 4, 2013

Archives

About Kitsap Caucus

Kitsap Sun reporters blog about politics, government and other wonkisms of import to Kitsap County.

Kitsap Caucus

Promote Your Page Too

Polls

Would you voluntarily donate to pay down the national debt?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...