25 Jan 2010

Democrats’ Dilemma

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Noemie Emery, in the Weekly Standard, relishes the cruel dilemma faced by congressional democrats, trapped between their party’s base demanding do-or-die passage of the health care bill and a massive public backlash.

In the wake of the stunning debacle (in their view) in the Bay State last Tuesday, Democrats find themselves with two thrilling alternatives: They can drop their unread and unreadable 2,200-page monstrosity of a health care reform bill and be labeled as wimps, jerks, and hapless losers who wasted a year and couldn’t deliver. Or, they can try to ram the Senate bill through the House (which hates most of it) in order to pass a bill that two-thirds of the country now loathes with a passion. They can either jump off the ship or stay on and sink with it. Either way, they end up in the drink.

There’s an interesting split among Democrats as to which courses to take. Those edging their way toward the lifeboats are those members of the House and Senate who sooner or later have to be in touch with the voters. Those who want the bill passed (i.e., pushed down the throats of the howling public) are White House officials and pundits, bloggers, academicians, talk show hosts, and others who don’t face reelection in this year or any, and will even find their business improving if the bill passes and all hell breaks loose. The pundits, who have no skin in this game since they will not get fired, have transferred their soaring contempt for the American people to their beleaguered House members. “Jump! Jump!” they cry to the quivering congressfolk. No sacrifice is too great for others to make for their dreams. …

Administrations have screwed up before, but this, in one of Obama’s pet words, is truly “historic” in terms of unforced self-destruction: No party before has wreaked such havoc upon its own members, created such division among its supporters, or sowed so much widespread despair. The fact that one year ago it stood on the pinnacle makes it still more amazing. As Jay Leno put it, “It’s hard to believe President Obama’s now been in office for a year. And you know, it’s incredible. He took something that was in terrible, terrible shape and he brought it back from the brink of disaster: The Republican party.”

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