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March 23, 2010

The Republicans have been handed a stunning defeat with the passage of Health Care Reform, plain and simple.  I could simply end the analysis by saying that “History is written by the winners.”  Obama certainly achieved that.  Not only did Obama display raw battering ram power by refusing to slow down to take the Republican sycophancy seriously, he marched his policy through Congress with principled, logical appeals in the face of a staunchly politicized and substanceless opposition that turned down every opportunity to negotiate and participate in the legislative process. The Republicans put all their eggs in one basket and found out that, in fact, the Easter Bunny doesn’t lay eggs.

In terms of the practicalities of the health care system that passed within the bill, I’d say that any details of actual implementation are almost entirely irrelevant in comparison with the fact that we now have any version 1.0 to build from.  Even though public utilities work in dozens of contexts without any public consciousness of that fact, we haven’t really had a policy of facing up to and addressing root causes rather than symptoms (to muddle metaphors) as a political strategy.  That, in and of itself, is much more of a historical paradigm shift in legislation in democratic politics than any since Reagan.  And the Republicans turned down their seats at the big boy table.  Instead they want to whimper and stamp their feet yelling, “No, no, NO!”

Republicans had essentially bet the farm (a less mixed metaphor in reality than at first blush) that America would continue to buy into the doomsaying they have been promulgating for decades.  But Republicans underestimated one thing about America: the rapidity of desensitization to all things political and rhetorical.  Republicans have basically shot their wad and lost the shock value that they had played on so successfully for decades.  No longer do people really bristle or react to allegations that a political opponent is “unpatriotic,” “socialist,” “letting the terrorists win,” or even–gasp–“liberal.”  When cut with words like “America has learned to laugh those terms off as punch lines, the terms’ meaning undermined by the satire and sarcasm of The Onion, Jon Stewart & Co, Keith Olbermann, etc.  So Republicans’ high-pitched shrieking and total ignorance of the actual substance, instead relying on rhetoric that would typically evoke fear and skepticism, wasn’t enough to get desensitized America off its collective ass and outside to the tea party protests.  But they’re in the cold now.  Simply passing the reform and making America feel proud of itself as though it really reached down deep to achieve its highest values (a specialty of Obama’s) was enough to bump public opinion of the bill to a nine-point margin in support.

Republicans are going to have to learn a new tactic now.  Because, like all blatant falsehood in the face of the cunning of reason, their hypocrisy is starting to show in stark relief (and quite comprehensively), and the American public is starting to catch on.

You can’t fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.

You can’t call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.

Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You can’t have it both ways.

You can’t carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.

You can’t refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn’t meet with you.

You can’t rail against using teleprompters while using teleprompters. Repeatedly.

You can’t rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.

The list really does go on and on and on…


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