Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Oh Yes He Did
During the final day of debate, the House Republicans got up, one after another, and repeated lie after lie. "This is a government takeover of health care:" Lie. "Medical care will be rationed and create long waits to see a governmentally designated doctor:" Lie. "Federal taxes will fund abortion:" Lie. And finally, the ghoulish "death panel" fantasy. Lie. I think the dumbest thing I witnessed all year was the sign held by some misinformed, preppy suburban housewife at Rep. Steve Cohen's town hall meeting last August that read: "Don't Tell My GiGi How To Die." I assumed GiGi was the woman's grandmother, but for all I know it could have been her hamster. Well, Obama's not going to kill GiGi, or anyone else's Nana, though you may be inclined to believe differently from the GOP's hysterical ravings. Rep. John Boehner, who referred to health care reform as "Armageddon," got so exorcised during debate, he turned a deeper shade of orange. He predicted the passage of this bill would cost the Democrats their House majority in 2010, and ultimately, the White House. Of course, that would make Agent Orange the Speaker of the House, a spectre more terrifying than death panels.
The deranged Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, was famously quoted as saying that health care reform would be Obama's "Waterloo," and an opportunity for the Republicans to "break him." Now that the bill has passed, the GOP is already saying that they will run on repealing the legislation in the mid-term elections, and predicting the destruction of the Democratic Party along with the Obama presidency. I'm not much of a political prognosticator (I was shocked when Kerry lost), but if history is any indicator, I'll take a crack at being a Barcalounger Nostradamus, and predict what is about to happen. When the fog of untruths dissipates and people realize the benefits they will receive, public opinion will shift to the side of the reformers, and we will wonder how we ever tolerated the big insurance cartels making medical decisions for doctors. The Democrats will lose seats in 2010, incumbents always do, but not enough to lose the House or stop the momentum of the progressives. As for the admonition that health care reforms won't kick in until 2014, I offer the General Motors situation as an object lesson.
When the government tried to save the American auto industry by bailing out GM, right-wing wailing began and only grew louder when Obama dismissed the company's CEO. Of course, Ronald Reagan disbanded an entire labor union, but his acolytes only cheered him for his bold resolve. Obama's actions caused GM to innovate, and viola, the electric hybrid appeared ready for the market. They had the technology all along, but refused to stop building gas thirsty land tanks and take an economic risk until they were forced to by their own mismanagement and governmental intervention. Same with the insurance companies. At this moment, there are enterprising insurance groups opening in order to capture all the potential new customers, and the printing presses are already rolling with mail solicitations that will offer health insurance with no pre-existing conditions. When the die has been cast, the company that waits four years to jump on the bandwagon will be the company that loses. Unlike the rabid radio ranters of the right, most rational people do not want Obama to fail because they understand that, if that happens, the country fails. The Republicans believe that since the Tea Party yahoos yell the loudest, they represent the majority. But the GOP's strategy of obfuscation and the stonewalling of progress in order to hamstring this president will backfire badly.
Over the weekend past, the Tea Party goons showed their true colors, other than white, displaying indefensible obnoxiousness by screaming "faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank, and "Kill the bill, nigger," at of all people, Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement who was beaten in Selma on Bloody Sunday. For a minute, it looked like the bad old days of the early sixties, proving my axiom that the Tea Party is nothing more than the reconstituted George Wallace coalition. For those citizens with principled objections to the reform bill, and who resent the caricaturization of the Tea Party movement as racist, I can only tell you that these fools say they're with you. The haters will still hate. That's their job. But the GOP's job should be to distance themselves from the lynch mob rather than embrace it. It is clear now that, regardless of the issue, the Republican Party's attempt to gut Obama's agenda will take precedence over the welfare of the nation. Any further progressive legislation will only happen over the GOP's bloated pachyderm carcass as they tack hard-right in anticipation of the next election. What an excellent opportunity for the emergence of a moderate Republican leader, if there are any left who haven't been purged from the party by the reactionaries. I guess they'll have to suffer a few more crack-back defeats, like the passage of health care reform, before they realize that "change" isn't neccessarily a bad thing.