HCR – Democrats in Winter – Part Deux


A few days ago I took issue with the idea that Obama’s Health Care Reform bill would be his “Waterloo” and suggested instead it would be a long, slow, grinding defeat more along the lines of Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. Nothing in the last twenty-four hours has dissuaded me from this view.

I appreciate this puts me at odds with the “abandon your posts, all is lost” theme so eloquently expounded by David Frum for one, but I believe I can bear this with equanimity. I also know I risk being characterized as some bizarre gene-splice of Baghdad Bob and Pollyanna for my cockeyed optimism. Just call me madcap and read on.

With all due respect to Mr. Frum — who sensibly concludes the whole thing would have gone much better if we had just held hands with Obama — I get it that we lost last night and I get that it’s serious. Unlike Frum, who took this occasion to blame it all on Talk Radio and generally stamp his feet like a petulant child, I do not think the sky has fallen and all is lost.

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. [...]

For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.

By the way, if there’s a bright spot in any of this, it’s that Frum has made himself even more irrelevant, but I digress.

There is no question Obama took a lot of ground last night. It is not at all clear how much he will be able to hold. As discussed previously, the states are gearing up for a fight that will doubtless end up in the Supreme Court. There are clear obstacles to the passage of reconciliation in the Senate, including a rules issue that the Democrats effectively suppressed before House passage.

These factors, quite by themselves, guarantee HCR will be a war of attrition extending far beyond November.  Now David Frum has pronounced repeal impossible, so I guess that’s that, but just in case he is mistaken I would prefer to see for myself after November. Ditto the Supreme Court, States rights issue and/or the possibility of starving this thing of funding.

A key to why any or all of the above is possible is found in a remarkable article in The Huffington Post — nestled deep in a forest of high-five’s — entitled Healthcare Reform & The Radicalization of Betsy & Robby.

Tonight the House of Representatives passed historic legislation with President Obama’s health care package and some pundits are saying the battle for health care is over. But far from being over, I’m afraid a deeply partisan battle-dare I say it-a war is only just beginning because of the manner in which this victory was won.

I say this because of two friends of mine: Betsy and Robby, my formerly apolitical friends who have been radicalized by the experience of the last 15 months and if they are any indication of the mood of the country, and I believe they are, the Democratic party is in for a political wake-up call of historic proportions in November.

It is illuminating that the Left (or at least its smarter segment) is coming to an appreciation of the dragon’s teeth Obama and the Democrats have sown with HCR. When the LA Times is running headlines the day after “history making” legislation entitled After healthcare vote, Democrats turn to damage control you know the party hats might be the first victim of rationing.

The party now must live or die with its landmark legislation in hundreds of congressional districts across the country, in the most hostile midterm election climate Democrats have faced since the Republican landslide year of 1994.

“Given that Democrats have basically lost the healthcare messaging fight for the last year, I’m not sure why we should think they will begin to win over the next seven months,” said Charlie Cook, one of Washington’s leading election handicappers. […]

Democrats who cast an aye vote Sunday and, as a result, may have to await history’s verdict in forced retirement.

Translation Dems: You’ve been lied to again. This is not going to go away. Your leader did in fact fire up the base, but unfortunately it was the wrong base, and like the Cossacks before them who harried the French all the way back to the Champs Elysees, they are really, really p*ssed.  Ignore that little nebbish Frum, the conservatives aren’t dead, in fact they’re feeling pretty good.  It doesn’t matter to them how long this takes, or the exact manner in which it happens. You are now their full-time project.

So while you struggle with that champagne cork reflect on one last thing. On the long march home Napoleon’s soldiers literally dropped in the snow from starvation and the cold while their leader rode home in a carriage with three meals a day. One of the more astute of you might need to explain this to Bart Stupak.