The economic equivalent of Chernobyl is certain now that Congress has funded Obamacare. Are the political points scored by the Republican Party a fair exchange… and why, for that matter, does the GOP suppose that it has scored any points at all?
On Friday of this past week, Pat Buchanan summarized in the following manner the Republican “compromise” that ended the Cruz-and-Lee “fool’s errand”:
Here was the recommended Beltway GOP strategy:
House Republicans should vote to fund Obamacare in a clean CR. Then exploit the disaster of the rollout to show what a horror it is. This will pump up our polls and improve our field position for 2014.
Then we can pick up some seats!
Bottom line: Let’s vote to impose Obamacare on America and make Democrats pay the price of the calamity we voted to impose.
Now there may be a more cynical strategy than deliberately doing permanent damage to your country to help your party.
Right now, I just can’t think of it. (1)
A couple of days earlier, Brent Bozell had picked apart the Politico polling numbers said to be responsible for the Republican panic:
There was questionable sampling: Democrats were 43 percent of the sample, compared to 32 percent Republicans. There were 9 percent more Obama voters than Romney voters (44 percent to 35 percent), while Obama only won by four points. In fact, most incredibly, in this poll, fully 20 percent of the respondents said they or a family member work for the government (federal, state or local). This is known as stacking the deck. (2)
I was faintly heartened by these two columns—faintly, because nothing very heartening for me came out of this umpteenth GOP cave-in. Previously, however, I had begun to suppose that I must be missing something. Almost all of the commentators whose opinion I most respect—Laura Ingraham, Mona Charen, Jonathan Goldberg, Thomas Sowell, and I believe more than one contributor to this very site—were convinced that resistance to the funding of Obamacare was not only futile, but counter-productive. The argument was that the Republicans held too few trump cards, and that they would only succeed in taking the rap for closing public parks and killing sick children if they persisted. Better to let the Democrats own the train wreck of socialized medicine and pay the full tax on ownership in the coming elections.
I thought I must finally have lost my mind. All I could think of were reasons to resist unto death, by tooth and claw.
First of all, Obamacare is bad law. Bad is bad. The system is utterly impracticable, it will obviously plunge us into insurmountable debt, and hundreds of obscure provisions keep surfacing one-by-one as major invasions of privacy or violations of constitutional rights (thank you again, John Roberts)… any responsible representative would have to consider himself honor-bound to oppose such a political coup. What kind of captain, when his passengers insist that he make straight for an infamous island after weeks at sea, would lay the disastrous course muttering, “Once we shatter the ship in the shoals, they’ll learn to respect me, and I’ll command the rafts of survivors”? What kind of human being thinks this way?
Secondly, how are we to suppose that such a legislative monstrosity can be fully dismantled within our lifetime once it’s fully funded, up, and running (or should I say, fully funded, down, and crawling)? My understanding is that about 16,000 new IRS agents are to be employed to ensure full compliance from sea to squalid sea. What are the odds that this new phalanx of the Gestapo will ever be given its collective pink slip—ever, that is, until the entire nation founders in bankruptcy? Is that to be the Republican “I told you so” moment: mass famine, rioting in the streets, and survivalist city-states? Do the Republicans really imagine us having elections at this point? But if we do, I’m sure they will enjoy a resounding comeback.
I ask myself, too, how the masses of cattle who get their news from a side bar as they check their e-messages are to be visualized as learning from our now-certain debacle. If these people were capable of learning (and they constitute about half of the American voting public), then they would not have elected El Chupacabra Grande to a second term. Horror stories about insurance rates doubling or trebling as deductibles soar through the roof are already pouring in, yet they are being reported only in remote news outlets. When the parasite class finally discovers that it must wait weeks for an incompetent and slapdash handling of an acute ailment—or be content to receive only painkillers for a fatally progressive disease—the most likely target of its wrath will be the Republican Party (and specifically George Bush). Our propaganda machine will see to that. The party establishment, in expecting a miraculously different outcome, has sealed its doom. The usually perspicacious Derek Hunter has written the full recipe for disaster in urging the GOP to stay its chosen course:
Democrat[s] wrote the bill, Democrats voted for the bill, a Democrat president signed it into law. It’s theirs. Make them live with it. As is.
Do not change one comma, one letter. It’s settled law! This is what they wanted, this is what people voted for. If the full failure of Obamacare isn’t allowed to happen, if “fixes” are passed, it will live on in a money-sucking spiral of destruction that will lead to a complete and total government takeover of health care in this country—which is their goal.
It’s going to be painful, but it’s also going to be quick. And the pain will be nothing compared to the damage to the economy and our future if this Frankenstein’s monster is helped to limp into permanency. (3)
I can see the headlines now. Refusing to make “minor adjustments” in an “ambitious piece of legislation” intended only to “help the needy” will plainly show the Republicans “playing politics” again (which, in fact, is exactly what they’ll be doing here). And the Boehner Brigade will cave in yet again, but yet again will receive no moral credit for being dragged kicking and screaming to “humane action”. How many times must we reenact this ritual of self-mutilation? Even a slow child learns that stoves are hot after one burn.
The poetic justice of that predicament will be (fourthly) that many Republicans never really had any ideological axe to grind with socialized medicine. A goodly number will say at this instant that refusing applicants coverage of pre-existing conditions or demanding exorbitant premiums for coverage is heinously inhumane. The Democrat mainstream, I’m quite willing to believe, is too dull to understand that the alternative is the vast majority’s forcible subsidizing of a very few. Most Republicans get it: they just don’t want to lose the public-relations war. Instead of proposing sensible and workable solutions (such as setting up extraordinary funds for extraordinary cases), they fall into step with the kind of mob that—as Ortega y Gasset classically described—burns down the bakery because bread has grown costly. That’s exactly what the GOP did last week. It’s what the party leadership has done now for at least twenty years.
Over and beyond concerns purely about the delivery of health care, do Republicans not know that businesses large and small are laying off workers, reducing workers’ hours, and—least painful personally, but no less harmful to our moribund economy—not hiring new workers? Will this be part of the “lesson” to be learned by those blockheads who gave the wrong answer to the Politico pollster? More unemployment benefits, more government dependency—take that! Do the GOP’s sophists expect masses that turn more than ever to Nanny Sam for their daily bread suddenly to rise up and demand freer markets? An uprising, alas, is all too likely. Some of us even believe that it has been the intended endgame, all along. Once public benefits run out, panic in the streets, the National Guard called out, a permanent domestic military created in an emergency session of Congress, elections suspended, free speech terminated, habeas corpus jettisoned… Hugo Chavez resurrected. Or Josef Stalin. If this should happen, interested parties not yet executed for free thinking will be able to trace its origins right back to last week—not its beginning, of course, but the beginning of the end. Does anyone recall the historical implications of the word “appeasement”?
And as for that damn poll (I think I’ve reached Point Number Six, if anyone’s counting), I naturally would have suspected the kind of hanky-panky that Brent Bozell describes. So would any reader of this site. We’ve heard that boy cry wolf far too often over the years. But my first reaction, honestly, was that I too would have rated the Republican Party about half a rung above toad feces for any curious pollster. Why does the leadership assume that the party is loathed because it doesn’t more narrowly resemble its rival? As I’ve written before, we don’t need a third party: we need a second one.
I devoutly wish to be wrong about all this. Nobody would be happier than I if Ingraham, Charen, and company had the proper reading of the situation. Their political savvy and their inside-the-beltway experience certainly far exceeds my own. Nevertheless, I can see nothing emerging from this kind of thinking but a Chris Christie or Jeb Bush nomination in 2016; and no, I will not be voting Republican in that event.
Michael Medved publicly branded people like me “idiots” in 2008 for not supporting John McCain. Eight years later, we’ll be right back at the same place: either the devil or the devil’s apprentice. In the meantime, those of us who don’t play it smart and angle for position—who naively stand on principle—will be said to court the destruction of the GOP. We’ll be ruining everything. In the same spirit, we’ll be told that we must support amnesty this fall, that we’ll be perceived as racists if we don’t—that the media will cut us some slack if we only hug a few illegal aliens, turn in our guns, and renounce the word “redskin”. That was the lesson of the “fool’s errand” (we’ll be told): we have to look more compassionate to people who wear rings in their lips and noses and to people who watch Netflix at home all day while Mom works two jobs. Sure, WE know that hyperinflation looms over us like the Twin Towers on fire; but those others, the mass that hates the Republican Party, they don’t get it. And we need to schedule a big Weed Smoke-Off in the ground-floor lobby so that we can get everybody together and eventually lead the throng to safety… if Cruz and Lee will just stop spooking people!
I do hope I’m wrong about how this ends. My son has just started college. But… but our building is on fire, it’s starting to heave and groan, and we have minutes rather than hours to escape.