Of the myriad news reports and blog posts about the passage of Health Care Reform, here are a pair of my favorites because they each swim against the tide of their own natural constituencies. One comes from David Frum, an avowed conservative and former speech writer for George Bush the latter, and the second is from Vox Nova, a Catholic blog generally pro-life.
Frum writes a scathing attack against those responsible for the health care bill in its current form—the Republican leadership.
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: … we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.
Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.
But Frum reserves his harshest criticism for the Rush Limbaugh types, the “conservative entertainment industry”, that lathers up the froth-jawed tea partiers for their own ratings. When Rush’s listeners “are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.”
Frum also dissents from the after-the-loss talking points of the Republican leadership that all will be well for Republicans after the next election cycle.
No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
Much as I disagree with Frum’s policies, I think his political intuition is right on. “It’s Waterloo all right: ours,” Frum concludes.
The Vox Nova article, Stop the Pro-Life Pity Party, chides the pro-life movement for being all whine and pretense. Here is a list of critical comments:
the pro-life movement turned its back on health care reform.
With leadership like this, the unborn don’t need enemies.
their initial demand is still largely met, and the caterwauling commences that they aren’t being respected. Grow up for crying aloud.
Your agenda never included supporting health care reform. Remember, Scott Brown, a pro-choice Republican, was your savior when he was elected in Massachusetts because he was going to stop the health care bill. You opposed health care reform and didn’t really care about abortion, and you know it. (emphasis mine) Stop blaming others for your faults. Stupak was handy when you didn’t just want to sound like another shrill partisan. Stupak managed to give you legitimacy. You didn’t give Stupak anything. Who was using who here? That’s right, Stupak was used by the pro-life movement.
Again, I think the political intuition of the blog writer is right on. He correctly understands that much of the pro-life rhetoric was mere cover for deeper political motives—whether Republicanism or conservative fiscal policies–or even darker visceral eruptions such as anti-Obama racism. The blog post concludes:
Of course, health care reform is a great thing too, unless you are a pro-life activist in which case it was a bad thing due almost wholly to things having nothing to do with the unborn.
Sometimes, conservatives can shine with brilliant insight.