The excruciating struggle to pass health care legislation has Republicans licking their lips. They’d manuveured the Democrats into a no-win situation – failure to pass the controversial legislation would confirm the notion that the Democrats are indecisive and weak – passing it would turn the population against them. The theory was that this assured the GOP a near effortless return to power in 2010 and 2012. It was a no-brainer – after stone-walling the process for the last year, all that was now necessary was to campaign like hell whatever way the process unfolded. That was (and is) the theory, but does that theory make sense? Maybe not; here’s why:
A. Health care reform: Sure, the legislation was unpopular, but remember, the disatisfaction is with the specifics of what was passed more than notion of reform itself. Prior to the last year’s emotive, vitriolic, mis-information funfest about 75% of Americans favored health care reform, and most were disatisfied with their plan. The majority of those who are unhappy with this year’s legislation are unhappy because it doesn’t go far enough. Can you imagine this horde of citizens pulling the level for a party dedicated to repealing the little that has been accomplished. No, it’s not going to happen.
The same is true for disatisfaction with the President. His approval ratings have plunged, but they’ve plunged primarily among the Democratic base – a base largely to the left of Obama. Again, disapproval does not necessarily translate into votes for the GOP.
There is another health care reform issue that favors the Democrats. Now that the legislative battle is “over,” the histronics have moved on to other matters (wall street reform). Even though the reform bill is far from perfect, it does provide some benefits to a group much larger than the currently uninsured. In all, this includes the elderly, children, small business, the currently uninsurable to name a few. No, the deal is not done, it is not a given that the legislation will be unpopular come November. The GOP cannot maintain its edge on the reform issue through minimal attention.
B. The “conjonification” of the Democrats: It is not secret that the Democrats regularly self-distruct, but the reason for these habitual, suicidal marches to defeat is not the party’s policies, its because it rarely follows through – it is a party of ideas without action. The efforts to pass health reform is a prime example – for most of the struggle the Barack “Man of Fire” Obama was somewhere off in La La Land while the rest of his gang was suffering from tremulous, positional constipation. Then, the miracle, the Dems passed a bill as promised. A mere accident? Maybe, but what if the Dems learned from it? What if the Dems put the brakes of Wall Street excesses by November?
C. GOP self-disception: Having assumed it has a winning strategy, the GOP will continue to obstruct passage of everything the Democrats propose, and it will continue to blatantly announce that it is doing so. This complacency has and will cause the party to assume untenable decisions. The health care reform, discussed above, is only one example – while insurance companies were arrogantly announcing large rate increases, the GOP stone-walled reform. And now there’s more – the very day Goldman-Sacks was sued for fraud, the congressional Republicans announced their unanimous opposition to Wall Street reform. What is this? I thought it was the Democrats who self-distruct…
D. Party fragmentation: In spite of the monolithic stance maintained by the Congressional Republicans, the party terribly splintered. Yes, there are fissures within Democratic ranks too, but they are not as serious. The Republican split represents a long-standing struggle between traditional conservatives and small but large anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-anti faction, and anti-antis are slowly winning, and this happens, the party is being pushed into an ever more extreme position. The Republicans have the “Tea Baggers” on their hands. If the movement stays with the party it will make it more extreme – if it goes it will take its votes with it. But whether the Baggers stay or go, they have already seriously wounded the GOP. Upcoming Republican Congressional and Senatorial primaries promised to be heated, vitrioic battles between extreme and moderate right factions. For example, John McCain of Arizona is under attack, and Florida’s popular Charlie Crist, beset by a Jeb Bush mouthpiece, is threatening to run as an independent. Essentially, the Republican party is eating its own arm, and it’s doubtful that it will grow a new one by November…unless the moderates capitulate.
E. The lack of credible leadership: If Fellini and Hiaasen were to collaborate, they could not invent something as bizarre, inept, incoherent, and unappealing as the current Republican leadership. If I were a Republican, I’d be embarrassed – Woops, I am a Republican.
Consider its Congressional notables? Michael Steele? How can anyone take this guy seriously. McConnell, Cantor, Boehner, Wilson, DeMint, Bachman, and a cast of others – humorless, unlikable nay(neigh)sayers – unconstructive negativity – no ideas – no action. McCain? Befuddled enough to think of himself as the “Straight-Talking Express.” That went by the wayside in 2000. Liebermann – a Republican in Independent clothing? Please Connecticutt; how long are you going to subject us to his whining? There are a few Republicans who occasionally attempt to buck this comic opera. Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snow? They might provide the basis for a Republican rejuvenation, but every time they open their mouths, they get stiffled.
And then there’s the wacho fringe. Let’s face it, the Congressional Republicans couldn’t exercise responsible leadership if they tried. I take that back, they couldn’t unless they had the inclination and chutzpah to do so. Alas that is not to be – the true stars of the GOP are jowl-flapping Lindbaugh, crying Beck, and fatuous Sarah Palin. Yes, they’re fun and entertaining, but but only a fringy could love them.
All in all, American politics have entered into a strange, bizarro world where the rate of Democratic self-distruction is being outpaced by self-emulation of the GOP. Don’t look for a Republican resurgence this fall.
Jim from the Abyss.