Winston Churchill said that, “In war you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.” Warfare and politics have always shared certain common elements. As battles became more complex and further geographically from the generals prosecuting the campaign, they learned that early reports from the battlefield were better – or sometimes worse – than actual events. To gain a better understanding of the reality of their actions, and to plot their next moves, they began using a process known as “battle damage assessment”

In the wake of Sunday’s House votes, it may be wise for everyone to take a page from the military and step back a bit to see what it looks like when the dust settles. Democrat leaders have made it clear that they see this as a first step. Republicans have promised to “fix” this bill (and its offspring in the Senate reconciliation process), and the insurance companies are going to have to adapt.

Great generals study the battles of the past to learn how to mount effective future campaigns. The “battle” that seems most germane to last weekend’s vote is the famous Battle of the Bay State, prosecuted by “General” Romney and his Democratic “troops.” Massachusetts health care reform was – at least in part – the template for the bill passed on Sunday, and it is clear that our legislators didn’t study nearly as hard as those generals. In the end, none of us may be happy with these battle damage assessments.

Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.