Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who's Afraid of Olympia Snowe?

As I have noted countless times, the ruling class types who were the pillars of the Republican Party of old have effectively ceded control of the Grand Old Party to the useful idiots Ronald Reagan and others enlisted into their ranks. Thus the GOP today is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Worse still, it is in league with the Dark Side – especially now, with the election of an African-American President. To their everlasting shame, Republicans have aided and abetted those who make it their business to cultivate that seedbed of resentment which, it seems, is always with us -- reawakening what Richard Hofstatdter long ago called “the paranoid style” in American politics. Nevertheless,, one must admire the Republicans for their obduracy, if only because it works. The GOP is well on its way towards blocking the timid reform measures advanced by its electoral rival, the Democratic Party -- or, as I prefer to call it, the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity.

If only the good and reasonable legislators who comprise “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party” would learn a trick or two from their vile and ludicrous competitors! This may be happening. At long last, as the Obama administration careens rightward on health insurance reform, there is hope that the not very progressive Progressive Caucus is finally developing a backbone. It is far from clear, though, whether, in the end, progressive legislators will indeed resist Obama’s call to be “good soldiers” – by conceding just about everything. They could still cave – winning yet another one for the Gipper (figuratively speaking, of course).

The conventional wisdom has it that if nothing that can be called “health care reform” passes, it will sink the Obama administration. This is nonsense. The Obama administration is sinking itself thanks to its bipartisanship, and unless it is forced to hold its ground, at least on this central theme of its first year, it will only sink deeper into the muck.

Progressive legislators should remind themselves that, so far, Obama has effectively betrayed or at least neglected every progressive constituency that supported him; that, contrary to what they assumed a few months ago, he is turning out to be a determined practitioner of continual war (today in Iraq and Afghanistan, tomorrow who knows where), a flunky for Wall Street interests, and, in general, just a more intelligent and less inept version of George Bush. Being better than Bush is old news; it is now time, as Obama’s liberal shock troops might say, to “move on.”

Even the remaining Obamamaniacs should appreciate this by now; even they should expend all their efforts in encouraging the Progressive Caucus to remain firm in its resolve to defect if its very minimal demands are not met; especially, if some viable “public option” is not part of the final bill.

Sadly for those who do want to win one for this Gipper, it is a truism that one cannot credibly threaten to defect without being actually willing to do so if need be. The lunatic Right understands this well; it is the source of their power. Progressive Caucus members, along with others in the POP are beginning to understand too. Our task is to keep them on course; to encourage them to hold fast.

Progressive Caucus members should be made to realize that if they do not stop Obama from conceding too much when they have the means to do so, they will have effectively ceded control of the health and welfare of their constituents and the financial solvency of the United States itself (in an era of ever-rising health care costs) to the likes of Olympia Snowe – and perhaps a few other “moderate” Republicans and “conservative” Democrats. Enough already. That hapless characters like the ones Obama is courting should be calling the shots is an insult to the American electorate and, needless to say, a guarantee that Obama’s “victories” will be Pyrrhic victories only. Are the Democrats afraid of Olympia Snowe? Is Barack Obama? By Wednesday night’s joint session of Congress, we’ll probably know.

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