Michael Barone may well have intended his exciting new book to make its appearance precisely when Congress turned its attention to immigration reform. That Congress had its attention turned elsewhere should not surprise him. One of the themes in this lively, entertaining, and informative work is that, when the subject at hand is immigration, it is foolhardy to make predictions.
"Do you realize," CNN's Susan Roesgen asked a man at the April 15, 2009, tea party in Chicago, "that you're eligible for a $400 credit?" When the man refused to drop his "drop socialism" sign, she went on, "Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets fifty billion out of the stimulus?"
Roesgen is no longer with CNN, and CNN has only about half as many viewers as it did last year. But her questions are revealing. They help us understand that the issue on which our politics has become centered -- the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government -- is really not just about economics. It is really a battle about culture, a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence.
The Tea Party is more than a year old. It began with Rick Santelli's famous rant against the Obama administration's housing policy on February 19, 2009. As Santelli predicted, that policy failed and the administration announced a new approach last week. It probably won't help either. But the Tea Party endures. It gained steam with rallies on Tax Day 2009, the town hall meetings protesting Obamacare last August, and the 9/12 march on Washington. The trajectory of the Tea Party is upward; the trajectory of the Democrats, downward. And the rising Tea Party tide is lifting Republican boats. The movement is the best thing to happen to the GOP in years. It contributes enthusiasm, cash, and principle to a disillusioned and demoralized party.
Michael Barone: "The House voted this afternoon by a 222-203 margin to pass the 'Slaughter solution' rule authorizing a single vote on the Senate health care bill which the House leadership wants to send to the president for signature plus the reconciliation health measure the House leadership wants to send to the Senate."
In health care speech number 37, President Obama told his audience in St. Louis, Missouri, yesterday that "the time for talk is over." He's said this before, of course, and it wasn't any truer then than it is now. The talking won't stop until the bill is passed -- and even then, the talking won't stop, because disagreement is far more common than consensus. And even if the GOP doesn't repeal health care reform, it will seek to change the policy and shift it in a consumer-oriented, free-market direction over time.
The desire to stop talking reflects a deeper antagonism toward politics. Read George Will's column today: "Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens."
"Remember the old Tip O’Neill story: after an aide referred to the House Republicans as “the enemy,” O’Neill corrected him. “The House Republicans are not the enemy, they’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
Nevertheless, the Obama administration (itself fast becoming the truest enemy of the House) wants the House to pass the Senate version of ObamaCare, hand it over to the president to sign into law, and then trust that the Senate will then -- and only then -- begin to fix some of the parts of the bill to which the House most strongly objects. Oh, and the Senate would do so using a "budget reconciliation" process that Americans strongly oppose, and would do so even though it would then be making the bill look more like what the House wanted and less like what the Senate wanted. Meanwhile, the administration would have lost all interest and would therefore be putting no pressure on the Senate to act, because it would then already have its coveted comprehensive bill in hand.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg writes today that he penned a memo to Democrats in May 1994 warning that “The administration, the Democrats in Congress and the party face a disaster in November unless we move urgently to change the mood of the country.” But he goes on to say that, "even then, I couldn’t imagine that Democrats would exacerbate the disaster, ending their decades of hegemony in the House."