Damned If They Do . . .
Congressional Democrats freak out.
Feb 1, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 19 • By NOEMIE EMERY
The pass-the-bill pundits focused in like a laser beam on the negative effects of having spent a whole year for nothing. Missing, however, was any calculation of the ills to be felt from doubling down in the face of a fierce public headwind on a plan that so many detest. They see Scott Brown’s win solely in the context of breaking the Senate supermajority, of being a technical glitch that requires a slight recalibration, not as the eruption of a national grassroots rebellion that has been brewing for months. There were the tea parties. There were the town halls. There was the slide in the polls, beginning in the summer and proceeding steadily downward. There was Virginia, which Obama won by 7 points, and Creigh Deeds lost by 18. There was New Jersey, which Obama won by 15 points, and Jon Corzine lost by 5. Then there was Massachusetts, which Obama won by 26 points and Brown won by 5, on an explicit promise to start over on health care reform.
The fourth try appears to have gotten the attention of some politicians. But not of the pundits or bloggers. They believe Democrats have taken all the hits they can from having voted for the bills in the first place, and have nothing more to lose. But Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and polls all show that resistance has spread to independents and to soft Democrats, and if the bill were rammed through by technicalities or dubious methods, their anger would further explode. The irony is that the pundits urging their party to defy the widely verified will of the people also want to make war on the rules of the Senate: for thwarting the popular will.
How many Democrats from purple or swing states (and since Massachusetts, this seems to be most of them) must now be wishing privately that Obama had lost to McCain? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with an assist from the White House, managed to wedge them into a position in which they could have voted against Obama-care and faced knee-capping threats from their putative leaders, or voted for it and faced decapitation by voters ten months down the road.
Since January comes before November, they chose to avoid the knee-capping now in the hope things would change for the better. But November draws nearer, and things have just gotten worse. 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.”
It took work, but Obama, Reid, and Pelosi were up to the challenge. Heckuva job, people. Heckuva job.
Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.