Throughout my life, I have maintained a fascination withsmooth salesmen and good bartenders.
I never tire of watching either perform their craft,because they share an innate understanding of how to tap into the human psyche.
Whether selling an insurance policy or concocting thenext round of Appletinis, both deploy overt and subliminal strategies toconvince customers they really need what each provides.
Sadly, brief and unsuccessful stints in both fieldsquickly convinced me to get on with my life's work in other avenues.
But I digress.
It's hardly a secret that I've been rather critical ofthe current administration (and for those with short memories, of the precedingone as well), but even I must marvel at the Oval Office sales hustle in thestretch run that allowed health care reform to pass by a scant seven votes inthe House.
The $940 billion bill that seeks to provide 32 millionuninsured people with access to heath insurance represents the biggestexpansion to government perhaps since the New Deal. The government, which hasgiven us the U.S. Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles, will becharged with putting 2,000-plus pages of health care reform into a workablepublic policy. Not an enviable task for an outfit, which to be kind has aspotty track record in its ability to run things.
Forget the polls that indicated a large percentage ofcitizens were decidedly against the legislation, it was going to pass.
But even that almost pales in comparison to the 11th hourback room negotiating that went on prior to last Sunday's historic vote.
In all, the president held more than 60 meetings withwavering lawmakers during the last week leading up to the vote, while somehowan aggregate$1.5 billion waslobbed in the direction of Louisiana, Tennessee, Connecticut and thepharmaceutical industry.
One day before the vote, some 17 states were suddenlygoing to be entitled to additional Medicare funds, and suddenly those who wereset to vote no, became staunch proponents of the CBO's claim that the billwould ultimately reduce the deficit.
Others, like a blessed lawmaker from California, suddenlyreceived a 20 percent increase in water supplies, while another in Florida,whose district just happens to include NASA, promptly withdrew her oppositionto the bill. So much for the cutback in funding over there.
I'm not privy to the president's skills as a mixologistbut I will salute his salesmanship in ramming through health care reform.
My guess is that he'll need all the sales skills he canmuster come the November elections.
Voters have very long memories.
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