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Special Editorial: Repeal

A one-word agenda for Republicans.

9:00 AM, Mar 22, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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The editors of National Review sensibly counsel conservatives, in the wake of last night’s victory for Obamacare: “‘Nil desperandum’--never despair.” I agree, though I’m more inclined to the mock-Latin motto of the Harvard band: “Illegitimi non carborundum”--don't let the bastards get you down.

Special Editorial: Repeal

Why not? Because we can repeal it.

As National Review’s editors explain (and see also the strong Wall Street Journal editorial this morning), this legislation “will increase taxes, increase premiums, and increase debt, while decreasing economic growth, job growth, and the quality of health care.” So it will--if it is allowed to go into effect.

Luckily, key parts of Obamacare--especially the subsidies--don’t go into effect until 2014. So what Republicans have to do is to make the 2010 and the 2012 elections referenda on Obamacare, win those elections, and then repeal Obamacare.    
 
Of course that can’t be the whole message in 2010 and 2012. Of course there will be other important issues. And even on this issue, the message will have to be not just repeal but also replace--replace Obamacare with sensible reforms. What’s more, working out exactly how to repeal and replace the parts of the legislation that will already be in effect is an important task, one to which I know Paul Ryan has already given some thought.

But the details of the replacing and reforming are secondary. Repeal is the heart of the matter. It should be the heart of the message. Think of it this way: This year Obama has handed Republicans a one-item Contract with America, an item a majority of the public supports--opposition to, and therefore repeal of, Obamacare.

Barack Obama was able to muscle his health care plan through, and therefore avoided a legislative defeat that Sen. Jim DeMint had said would be his Waterloo. But Waterloo was always an imperfect analogy. Leaving aside the injustice to Napoleon of comparing Obama to him, the better analogy is Borodino.

Napoleon invaded Russia in June of 1812. On September 7 of that year, the Grande Armée under Napoleon’s command attacked the Russian army near the village of Borodino. Napoleon won the battle, the greatest of the Russian campaign, but at a terrible cost--about a third of his soldiers were killed or wounded. The Russian army was not destroyed, and while Napoleon occupied an abandoned Moscow a week later, the French army was never the same. It soon had to begin its disastrous winter retreat from Russia, and Napoleon finally did meet his Waterloo almost three years later.

Last night’s victory was the culmination of Obama’s health care effort, which has been his version of  Napoleon’s Russia campaign. He won a short-term victory, but one that will turn out to mark an inflection point on the road to defeat, and the beginning of the end of the Democratic party’s dominance over American politics. Last night was Obama’s Borodino. Obama’s Waterloo will be November 6, 2012.

And then comes repeal, and the opportunity for renewed and revitalized conservative governance.  

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