6 highlights from Donna Brazile's and Dana Perino's HIMSS12 keynote debate

By Michelle McNickle
11:41 AM

On the last day of HIMSS12, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile and Republican commentator Dana Perino sat down to discuss a range of topics. Covering everything from the 2012 election to EHRs to healthcare reform, the two presented a lively and entertaining discussion about government and healthcare. 

Here are six highlights from Brazile’s and Perino’s debate at HIMSS12. 

On the last day of HIMSS12, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile and Republican commentator Dana Perino sat down to discuss a range of topics. Covering everything from the 2012 election to EHRs to healthcare reform, the two presented a lively and entertaining discussion about government and healthcare. 

Here are six highlights from Brazile’s and Perino’s debate at HIMSS12. 

1. On leadership: Although primarily focused on government, Perino’s comments on leadership could easily be applied to a myriad of industries, including healthcare. “There are a lot of times in leadership when you can be a jerk, or you can learn to forgive,” she said. Perino continued by describing various natural disasters, and how the best work was done when leaders came together and worked collaboratively. She spoke of a time when President George W. Bush invited President-elect Barack Obama, along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, to help after Hurricane Katrina. “If you think of all the things Clinton said about Bush 41, and what Carter said about all of them, yet there they were, showing the world we can have our differences, but at our core, we believe in the system – the question is, the system we have: Does it not work, or did it work and we got off track?”

[See also: HIMSS12 Twitter Recap: Biz Stone Keynote.]

2. On political compromise, or lack thereof: “I have a theory, that many of us in the political world, we don’t come into it with clean hands,” said Brazile. “We stir the pot, and I’ve made my share of gumbos. But one of the biggest problems is how we elect people in this country.” Often, continued Brazile, citizens elect the loudest and most organized candidate, and time ends up telling of their inability to compromise. “There [used] to be a trust and a fellowship,” she said. “But I saw it dissipate in the ‘90s ... we started seeing it unravel with the cultural war.” Now, she noted, only 60 percent of Americans will identify with one political party, while 40 percent are stuck in a "tug of war.”

"You’re not engaged in this tug of war, but you have to wrestle control, and this is where you come in, as independents, to vote. But, you’re so sick of the left and the right that you don’t vote, and we elect liberals and conservatives, and there’s no middle," she said. "We’ve taken the middle out, and we’re left with the loudest voices on both sides.”

3. On being for 'ObamaCare': Brazile made clear that she is a supporter of President Obama's healthcare reform, yet she recognized potential flaws associated with it. “One of the problems with ObamaCare, or RomneyCare 2.0, as some call it, is people don’t like the process and people didn’t like the product,” she said. “When you can’t defend the process, and you can’t sell the product as a win-win for the uninsured and for those trying to maintain their insurance … it’s picked apart.” We aren’t going to reach a political consensus any time soon, she added, since everyone is “still dousing gasoline on it and it’s burning out of control.” Another issue with the legislation, she continued, is Obama’s failure to sell it. “This is one thing where I wish the president used the power of pulpit to explain it,” she said. “The president has to use the power of pulpit strategically, and often, they use it for tactical operations ... I cringe and say, ‘You don’t use it that way.’” 

Continued on the next page. 

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