EDITORIAL: Obama's sick obsession
Nationalized health care is the progressives' Golden Fleece. It is their obsession, the ultimate prize that was denied to previous administrations but is closer than it ever has been. As the ability of government to take over the health care system draws tantalizingly near, the president and leaders of the majority party have become infected with a kind of mania. President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders seem determined to ram through a severely flawed piece of legislation by any means necessary, heedless of the desires of the American people or the negative impact on the system they mistakenly say needs to be saved.
A large majority of Americans are satisfied with their current health care plans, though most also think the system could be improved. Yet proponents of the Democrats' radical health care overhaul brazenly claim the system is irretrievably broken and only radical surgery will save it. According to the latest Gallup poll numbers, less than a fifth of even those who favor health reform agree with that position. The majority of Americans are divided between those who want a scaled-back health care measure and those who want the current project dropped entirely. If any system is broken, it is the legislative process.
Long-time Democratic pollsters Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen warned last week that "the battle for public opinion has been lost" on heath care. Democrats have backed themselves into a corner. If the bill fails, they suffer a defeat. But if they win, they also lose because Democrats "will face a far greater calamitous reaction" in November. "Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes," they caution.
But the glittering prize is too near for such sage counsel. The liberal leadership is infused with a sense of mission. They are the midwives to history, shepherding landmark legislation that will revise the American social contract and usher in a new era, or some such foolishness. All they need to do is pass the bill, and the poor, frightened, deluded American people will see the wisdom of their decisions. Hence House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's memorable (and revealing) comment, "We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what is in it." In her imagination, once the bill is signed, voters won't remember the struggle, just the glow of the accomplishment. Rip off the bandage; you'll feel better after the sting.
The Democrats' headlong drive is leading to bouts of political insanity, such as the aptly named Slaughter rule, which potentially could allow the House of Representatives to "deem" the health bill passed without a final vote. That the Democratic leadership would consider resorting to such a stunt betrays a high degree of contempt for the electorate, whom they presumably think will not remember or care that their representatives would not go on the record on such a major piece of legislation.
Disaffected voters, however, will recognize cowardice for what it is. Add to this the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the backroom dealing, special-interest loopholes and fundamental unsoundness of placing government at the center of the health care system, and November will be a slaughter indeed.
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