Republicans Become Party of Slow (Rhymes With No) on Healthcare

Is Alex Castellanos the Bill Kristol of this year's healthcare debate?

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Is Alex Castellanos this healthcare reform debate's version of Bill Kristol? As I noted yesterday, Kristol dusted off his greatest hits by advising Republicans to unrepentantly move to kill Obama's healthcare reform plan. While that's not surprising his frothing-at-the-mouth tone was arresting: He warned GOPers against trying to appear "constructive, or at least responsible." (I love that--he's not warning against being constructive and/or responsible, but against even trying to look it.) Republicans should, Kristol wrote, kill healthcare reform without being tempted to present an alternate vision.

Castellanos, the veteran GOP operative who doubles as a CNN analyst, wrote a memo to fellow Republican strategists regarding how to approach the healthcare debate, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reports today. Castellanos' involves the GOP trying to appear ... constructive, or at least responsible.

Castellanos writes:

Cost is driving this debate.

We cannot compete with their cause v. our policies. We must compete with their cause v. our cause.

Our cause must be about what is driving this debate as well. Our cause must also be bringing down health care costs.

(The Post put his full memo online.)

He goes on to say that the GOP should paint Obama as being a tool of Washington, while the GOP wants to empower patients with their alternative. His "Key Message Point" is " SLOW DOWN the OBAMA EXPERIMENT WITH OUR HEALTH." (He really likes his boldfacing.)

So in the one corner we've got Kristol preaching wild-eyed obstinacy and in other Castellanos favoring earnest, slow-it-down opposition. Who wins? As Milbank details in his column, Michael Steele's National Press Club speech Monday was lifted almost word-for-word from the Castellanos memo. And that approach actually makes more sense. Why embrace the "party of no" label when you can act as the "party of slow" and at least appear constructive and/or responsible?