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Sore Winners

From the Scrapbook

Apr 5, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 28
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Sore Winners

For a party basking in its “historic” health care reform, Democrats (not to mention their media camp followers) sure didn’t seem very happy last week. They were, instead, obsessed with supposedly violent, racist opposition to their great “achievement” on the part of tea partiers and conservatives. This was more than a little unseemly. The violence they cited was almost entirely a figment of overactive, partisan imaginations. Everybody in public life (even The Scrapbook!) gets nasty emails. That’s a permanent feature of the wonderful carnival of democracy in a country of 300 million people.

Perhaps needless to say, a victorious party unable to stomach opposition is a poor advertisement for democratic virtues. The only thing really running riot last week, as far as The Scrapbook could tell, was the persecution fantasies of the Obami. There were many choice specimens; it wasn’t just the usual hysterics on MSNBC who were worried sick about hateful conservatives saying mean things. 

Most striking to The Scrapbook: Even people on sports talk radio were concerned. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser hosts a sports talk show in Washington, and on Thursday he interrupted his normal mix of banter, self-reference, and shtick to bring in Newsweek’s Howard Fineman to dilate on the seamy underside of American politics.

“The America we live in has turned very violent, very partisan, and very, very ugly,” Kornheiser began. “People who voted for health care, Democratic representatives who voted for health care, feel that their lives are in danger. And this is not made up of whole cloth.”

Fineman agreed. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “The anger, the fear, the intensity of it. .  .  . Normally I love everything that happens on the Hill in politics and ‘is this a great country or what?’—that’s my general attitude. But this was—it was scary. And I must say, my first thought after Bart Stupak made the deal that he did [throwing his pro-life scruples overboard] .  .  . my first thought is he should have 24/7 police protection from now on. Because there are, especially in the pro-life—on the fringes of the pro-life movement—there are some extremely, extremely scary people. .  .  . This is not a joking thing.”

It sure isn’t! Kornheiser groped for historic parallels. His first stop was the Southern backlash against the civil rights act: “Howard and I are old enough to remember the civil rights movement where there was this kind of violence as people thought that their lives were being threatened by a new world order in America.”

But the opposition to Obamacare is apparently even worse. “The violent aspect of it,” Kornheiser explained, “seems more frightening than anyone can remember.” He asked Fineman if he really thought Bart Stupak “has to fear for his life?” Fineman wasn’t sure, but “the psychology is very scary,” he warned.

Worse, even, than Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1963? Why, yes. Korn-heiser worried that the opposition to Obamacare is so out of control it could morph into some kind of national socialist-populism. “Are we looking at, you know, the rise of a skinhead movement in effect?” he asked. “Not skinheads, but you know what I mean: the rise of some populist, horrifying movement that’s going to sweep the country?”

Here, finally, Fineman demurred. “No, I don’t think so.” It’s good to see that there are some analogies even a Newsweek columnist finds implausible. Opponents of Obamacare: At least they’re not skinheads.



Taking Original Intent to a Whole New Level

‘The Supreme Court in India has endorsed the right of unmarried couples to live together in a case involving an actress accused of outraging public decency. A three-judge panel in Delhi pointed out that even Hindu Gods Lord Krishna and Radha were co-habiting lovers" (BBC News, March 24). 


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