The Selling of Health Care
The most popular president in modern history that served at least one full term was Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Why? When he came to office, Ike had nothing to prove. He'd already successfully commanded the greatest invading army in history. His accomplishments: ending the Korean War; creating the Interstate Highway System; lighting a firecracker under civil rights when his Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and he signed the Civil Rights Act (1957); spending a lot of time working to lower his golf handicap.
With Eisenhower in charge, a high comfort level existed in the country. The president and Congress quietly and competently took care the people’s business so we could do our jobs, feed our families and raise our kids.
Ike’s approval rating never fell below 50 percent. In the end, he handed a peaceful and prosperous country to his successor. Based on presidential approval ratings, it's clear we don't like activist presidents. We're comfortable with chief executives who do what's necessary and no more. With the exception of Gerald Ford, an unelected caretaker CEO, all presidents since Eisenhower have been activists. And a number of activist presidencies imploded—Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Hostage Crisis, Iran-Contra, Lewinsky, subprime catastrophe and bank bailout.
A half century later, our activist president is trying to sell health care reform to the electorate and is suddenly up to his ears in alligators.
The situation might have been avoided if just one of his advisers had a background in marketing.
On Nov. 7, 20007, at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., candidate Barack Obama made a speech that included a reference to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s failed 1994 health care reform initiative. He said:
They made one really big mistake. They took all their people and all their experts into a room and then they closed the door and they tried to design the plan in isolation from the American people. I would do it entirely differently. We are going to have a big table, and everybody's going to be invited. It will be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the net.