The occasions of being "right" have everything to do with the usual stopped-clock syndrome, and nothing at all to do with having a principled argument in good faith. Kristol exemplifies the utter worst in American political analysis -- a legacy hack who would have trouble picking the winner in a Harlem Globetrotters game. The only reason he was "right" in 1994 is because his betting pattern happened to pay off that time.
And let's face it -- even when they're successful, there's rarely much downside to betting against Democrats. They're bad at being the minority party, but they're even worse at being the majority party. When was the last time these people found the occasion, discipline, and intestinal fortitude to break out of the usual circular-firing-squad formation?
That's not a rhetorical question; I seriously cannot recall the last time they had this sort of electoral mandate and legislative advantage, yet they have no idea what to do with it. They are continuously flummoxed by the simplest obstructionist clowning from the Republicans, who have nothing to lose by being obstructionist clowns, because they know that the Democrats will fail to do anything meaningful about it.
Same with people such as Kristol. When has he ever had to deal with any consequences for being wrong, for failing to bring any insight to a discussion, for being tendentious and intellectually dishonest to a comical degree? Until people stop bringing him on as a commentator, or publishing his water-carrying jabber as if it should be taken seriously, what incentive is there for him to stop?
Kristol has never even bothered with the pretense of displaying more than a surface knowledge of any given subject. He has never attempted to hide his role as a purely partisan strategist. This has never mattered to the corporate media outlets that continue to request his services. Perhaps we can see a pattern here, if we choose to look closely enough. Just incompetence is never a reason to lose one's media gig, so too is it axiomatic that cost arguments are only relevant in certain issues, primary among those being health care.
Sigh. Where to start? First, "liberals" do not lack the votes, at least along party lines. Big-tent wanking aside, the Blue Dog assholes take advantage of their all-liberals-are-Democrats-but-not-all-Democrats-are-liberals cred and use it to constantly force their party to negotiate at gunpoint. And they never seem to have to concede a thing; the party is content to let them pad their districts with useless boondoggles in exchange for a constantly fraying party loyalty. Like Billy Kristol, they never seem to have to pay any meaningful consequences for their actions, so there is no incentive for them to change.
Secondly, the issue of "cost" is both a shame and a shibboleth. We sunk $2 trillion into Iraq in just six years, yet there's just no way to maybe one-sixth of that in a decade, not to mention the lost productivity costs that would be offset by a genuine health-care initiative, as opposed to the industry-written handjob that the Democrats will eventually sign off on? We've spent over a trillion in the past year bailing out the thieves who turned the world's financial sector into a giant casino, yet refuse to cover their own losses.
And why precisely is this health-care cost estimate what it is? Look at what we're paying for now even when we have insurance -- increasing deductibles and co-pays, more people getting kicked off for pre-existing conditions, and on and on. So someone ends up paying thirty bucks for a Tylenol at the hospital, and people put their houses up for hock if their kid breaks a leg or gets ill, all so the executive salaries and bonuses of the HMO/pharma/insurance can stay in the eight- or nine-figure range. It is a most insidious version of the usual upward wealth-transfer that afflicts just about all our systems these days, every bit the highway robbery as what passes for our financial system.
They like to tell you that politics is the "art of the possible", but it should be obvious by now that it's really just the art of figuring out what you're willing to put up with.