During Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign against George H.W. Bush, strategist James Carville changed the focus of the campaign with one brilliant phrase: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Bush was considered unbeatable because of his record and stance on foreign policy issues, yet Carville understood the need to focus voters’ attention on the deeply recessionary economy which he believed Bush had not adequately addressed.
Sometimes, amid all of the heated rhetoric, all that is needed is the right phrase at the right time. This is more simply said than done, but as Carville showed, when it happens it is a powerful tool. So, why is it so darned hard for the insurance industry to utter the words, “It’s the costs, stupid”?
Absent the emotion and (what pundit George Will aptly referred to as) the American capacity for synthetic indignation, we would be well advised to bear in mind that the insurance companies reflect, but do not create the system’s costs. If you don’t like the price of an automobile you don’t blame the finance company.