The death of the Murphy Bill: On being the national spokesman

The Murphy Bill as we know is dead.  The Republican leadership in the House announced a change in strategy.  They basically decided to toss in the towel on the more controversial parts of the plan and try to see if they can move forward on elements that seem to have a greater consensus behind them. There may be CPR efforts yet but it appears done.

It was a bill in trouble from the start despite the massive pr campaign that tried so hard to say it wasnt so.  It managed to unify groups that might not agree on what kind of reforms they wanted, but were absolutely sure what they didnt want and that was the Murphy Bill.

Part of the problem was Murphy himself.  He assumed that as “the only psychologist in Congress” he was the obvious and deserved national spokesman for mental health reform.  He wasnt.  Being a psychologist certainly didnt qualify for the role.  Neither did being a member of the House of Representatives.  It seemed that Dr. Torrey annointed him and for some reason they both thought that mattered.  In the end it was hard to know where he started and Dr. Torrey ended and that was perhaps a fatal flaw.

He didnt understand that leadership was built or that it was a two way street.  He alienated people who had lived mental health reform their entire adult lives.  He thought it was about them joining him and never seemed to know it was the other way around.  And he never realized that trust was everything and that when he snuck AOT into the medicare bill he destroyed his chances of trust with people whose support he needed.

He was naive.  The only people who believe federal laws change everything are federal lawmakers and most of them know better.  To say that his law was going to prevent the next shooting was simply ego.  He believed his own press clippings and his posturing before the dead were even buried just seemed like rank opportunism.

Mental health reform is an ongoing effort by many, many people with different values and priorities.  Sometimes it is its own worst enemy.  People who cant stand each other have a hard time standing together for anything.  Murphy I hope has to some degree taught people they can find unity despite their differences.  And maybe the fragile unity borne of him will be the biggest take-away from the entire thing.

He may indeed try again.  He probably will.  Dr.  Torrey most surely will.  He has won many, many short term victories and will doubtless win more, but the big prize has eluded him again. He is not the national spokesman he has annointed himself to be either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s