Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Passage of DemocratCare

* Democrats in the House passed the Senate version on DemocratCare by a vote of 219-212; they needed 216 to pass. Just three votes to spare. Congress has just passed, and Obama has just signed into law today, one of the most momentous bills in American history on a straight single party vote, with not a single Republican vote, by a remarkably slim margin in the House where even many Democrats voted against it. We’ll now find out if a hyper-partisan approach to health care reform can last.

* Democrats have long blamed all ills on George W Bush, but this time it’s my turn. Ronald Reagan left a third term for his legacy, but Bush left us not just Obama but Democrat super-majorities in both Houses of Congress. His mishmash of policies, often confused, inconsistent, and poorly managed, his embrace of the oxymoronic “big government conservatism” that got him and his Republican allies nowhere, his often poor choices in personnel, and most importantly his utter inability to defend his positions and persuade Americans of their merits all led to a devastating wipe out of Republicans over two elections. How different things would be now if there had been all last year only, say, 56 Democrat Senators instead of 60 and 10-15 fewer Democrats in the House; Democrats needed every one of their 60 votes to break a threatened Republican filibuster and bring the Senate health care bill to the floor for a vote, where they then easily got the 51 votes needed to pass. Bush in his second term was weak before his adversaries and left conservatives and independents enervated and angry, and now we live with the consequences.

* The story of how, in Illinois, three Democrats now represent historically Republican districts is instructive, and one I have posted on in the past (link). Big government, back-slapping, go along - get along Denny Hastert, former Republican Speaker, decides to retire mid-term, and a mentally-fogged Republican electorate nominates twice an astoundingly weak perennial candidate who proceeds to lose not one but two elections (a special and a regular biennial) in less than 12 months to a Democrat political newcomer (Foster). In another district, an old, doddering Republican congressman (Crane), the longest serving in Congress at the time, who had stayed around way too long, gets defeated by a smart, young Democrat newcomer (Bean) who runs, as so many of them do, as a fiscal conservative and social moderate – liberal?, hell no. In yet another district, the incumbent Republican congressman (Weller) unexpectedly announces his retirement to run off with his new Latin American bride, the daughter of a former dictator of Guatemala (a puzzling development), and then his hand-picked successor, the winner of the Republican primary to replace him, decides at the last minute not to run after all, leaving a mad dash to find a replacement candidate, a somewhat unskilled newcomer to politics, who loses the seat (to Halvorsen). All had been Republican districts, all now with supposedly “moderate” Democrats, all of whom voted for DemocratCare. That’s three votes just in one state that could’ve and should’ve been Republican but for Republican party ineptness.

* The Stupak fiasco was remarkable. The Michigan Democrat, elected explicitly as “pro-life”, insisted for weeks that he could never support the Senate bill because of its permissive language with regard to government funding of abortions. At the very end, after Speaker Pelosi held firm, he folded and sold out his principles (assuming he had them to begin with) and voted for the Senate bill, hiding behind a meaningless, infinitesimally small fig-leaf executive order Obama issued at the last minute to provide him some cover for his vote. Unfortunately for Stupak, everyone knows the order is meaningless and cannot ever contravene what’s in the Senate bill, and the Democrats laugh at how cheaply he was bought out. By first holding out but then selling out at the very last minute for nothing to a president who is not just pro-abortion but defended infanticide while in the Illinois Senate, Stupak looks like a big ass and now has Democrats who despise him and Republicans who hate him. A remarkable achievement. The 11th hour sell-out by Stupak and the small band of similar supposedly pro-life hold-out Democrats gave Pelosi the votes needed for victory.

* Pelosi’s public relations stunt before the vote, walking around outside with black congressmen while holding the big gavel used during the Congressional civil rights fight decades ago, is a transparent effort to bolster the despicable Democrat strategy to paint everyone opposed to DemocratCare as racist (and the black politicians were happy to allow themselves to be used as props). Moreover, some black congressmen played up the race card, alleging, without documentation or corroboration, they heard racial slurs from tea party demonstrators. Personally I doubt their stories; a very convenient time to shout racism at 30,000 anti-Obamacare protestors. I heard a number of angry liberals call in to conservative talk radio all lathered up and energized about these “facts”, which some conservatives foolishly played into by asserting that most tea partiers are not racist. Sheesh. Playing the race card works and smearing Republican and conservative opponents as racists has long been a basic play in the Democrat playbook, so no doubt we’ll hear many more such smears in the months to come.

* The new law contains an "individual mandate" ordering every American to buy health insurance, said by Democrats to be constitutional under the Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce. Never before has the mere act of being alive been regarded as interstate commerce; never before has a law compelled an American to engage in interstate commerce through the purchase of a good or service (in this case, health insurance). If this law survives constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court, where it will inevitably end up, then any and all theories of Constitutional limitations on federal government power are gone, and the United States has truly crossed a threshold and entered the second phase of its existence, one of vastly diminished liberty and unrestrained central government control over our lives.

Repeal and Replace.

John M Greco