See, D.C. burned this weekend, but Scotland and I stayed out of the flames.
While health care occupied every tiny blot of news print over the weekend, we just tried to find some untainted rays of sunshine out in Great Falls. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in our great halls of government, I’m just a little cynical about the circus that the District devolved to over the weekend.
Sunday morning, driving to church, my girlfriend and I felt like we were driving through a collection of sideshows. On your right, there was Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war protest tents and mock cemetery to remember the fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apparently no one bothered to tell Cindy that we have a cemetery just up the road in Arlington.
Oh, and when it comes to remembering the fallen, I have much less anger over the death of men and women who volunteered to serve in our armed forces, than the death of the myriads of babies from abortion in America, who weren’t given a chance to decide how they would live their lives.
Count up your little white markers and see which one comes out higher, Cindy.
There was a steady stream of people protesting the lack of change immigration policies that Obama seems to have conveniently forgotten.
Then there were the people angry about this little bill being pushed through the House of Representatives.
I don’t have a screed on Why the Democrats Convinced Me to Oppose the Bill, but I do have a few points on why I’m struggling to believe the narrative that emerged over the weekend.
1. Health Care Needed to be Fixed
There are few people who would argue that the system of health care in our country needs change. There are problems with the current system, with the way that we handle things, with the way that insurance premiums rise, and with the rising costs of all parts of care and treatment. At the same time, problems in our society aren’t exclusive to health care.
What frightens me is not that we are seeking to reform health care, it’s the fact that we’re so desperate for a solution that we’re willing to try anything to fix it. Just because you call something, “health care reform” and throw a massive new law into the IRS Tax Code, it doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to fix anything. Also, the problem with any type of massive overhaul of government is that you often create a series of tiny cracks and problems that won’t reveal themselves for years. Unintended consequences plague quick fixes throughout society, and whether it’s the invasion of Kudzu across the American South (just accept the southern analogy) or the “Cash for Clunkers” debacle– quick fix salvations rarely come at a cheap cost.
Oh, and when you pass a massive bill that few people have had time to read all the way through, it seems safe to assume that you’re not entirely sure what you’re agreeing to put into law. Just ask the Democrats who voted for the Patriot Act back in 2001.
The demonization of the insurance companies bothers me as well, especially since President Obama and the Democrats have no problem sleeping in the same bed as big drug companies (a lobbying branch who seem to have the same insidious desire to make money as the insurance providers). The fact that massive concessions were given to these companies seems to contradict the idea that Democrats were actually interested in true reform and lowering the costs of health care. What ever happened to all those stories about going to Canada, because of cheaper generic drugs across the border?
2. Did John Lewis Lie?
The comparisons between reforming health care and the civil rights movement were inescapable over the weekend. Nancy Pelosi waved her stiff arms around about this being the new type of equality, and proponents looked for ways to paint opposition to this bill as being in the same vein as white bigots in the 1960s.
There seemed to be a perfect example for this argument, when the venerable Rep. John Lewis claimed to have been called the “n”-word during a highly contrived walk with Pelosi on Sunday. It didn’t seem like a stretch of the imagination that something like this would happen. Anger makes people say stupid things, and if these things were said, they would be reprehensible.
However, the racism narrative seems a bit weak when you actually analyze the situation. First, there were no recordings. Watch the video here from part of the walk, and while the people seem mad, you hear no racist epithets. From people on the ground in D.C. who I’ve talked to, no one heard anything of the like, and the question I keep getting, is that if this was so offensive, why weren’t there any arrests or any documentation of this offensive speech? According to Rep. Andre Carson and the Associated Press, the crowd chanted the “n-word fifteen times.” Why didn’t someone flip their phone or camera on, and capture this repeated horrifyingly offensive speech?
The sad truth is that once the racism charge gets into the media echo chamber and starts bouncing around, it’s hard to let it rest, even if there is little proof for the claim outside of the word of Lewis and a few others.
Second, this isn’t meant to be offensive, but Lewis is getting older, and older people sometimes mishear things. White or Black, it’s just one of the facts of life and if Lewis misheard one of the protestors, it wouldn’t be surprising. Unfortunately, Lewis has the ultimate trump card for any claims to the contrary. The man is a civil rights legend, he marched in Selma, AL. and had his skull split open by a bigot. Even legends make mistakes sometimes.
Third, like Bill Bennett said on Wolf Blitzer on Monday, even if someone said these horrible things, these people do not stand for the whole. It is unfair and absolutely despicable to paint the opposition to the bill as racist just because a few crazy people said something stupid.
3. No One is Talking about the IRS: The question that seems to be largely ignored in the discussion about this new bill is how is the IRS supposed to handle enforcing this new legislation? We’re talking about one of the most inefficient, mistake-prone organizations in the history of the American government, and you want to put them in charge of one of the most sweeping acts of change in modern history?
It bothers me that I’m going to be forced to have some type of health care insurance. If the anger with the current law stays in place, it’s going to be interesting to see how many people refuse to follow this mandate, and then what happens with the enforcement of this act.
Will the government put people in jail who refuse, on an issue of conscience, to buy health care?
1928 Brandeis decision stated eloquently that, ““the protection guaranteed by the amendments (of the Constitution) is much broader in scope. The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect . . . They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions, and their sensations. They conferred as against the government the right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”
At the expense of political ideology, the Democrats seem willing to erode that right for every single American.
4. Big F_ing Deal
I love Joe. Seriously, the man cracks me up every single time. I know it’s been a point of over-kill, but the man leans over to the guy who has staked his presidency on the enacting of this bill and, on live mic, tells him that this is a, “big f-ing deal”
Just in case somehow you could forget.
5. Polite-Company Conservatives
This is a tangent to the health care discussion, but Michael Calderone has a great link to an article by Tunku Varadarajan at the Daily Beast on David Frum and a new type of conservatism. Thought it seemed fitting, considering some of the discussion we’ve had on Patrol in the last months.
“David is a man I’ve known professionally for almost a decade, and with whom my social interaction has always been very genial. He is a good and energetic man, and has, in the years since he left service at the White House, dedicated himself to being what I call a “polite-company conservative” (or PCC), much like David Brooks and Sam Tanenhaus at the New York Times (where the precocious Ross Douthat is shaping up to be a baby version of the species). A PCC is a conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway—who wishes, always, to have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a sense that their liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness and their talk radio. The PCC, in fact, distinguishes himself from other conservatives not so much ideologically—though there is an element of that—as aesthetically.”
Did the Republicans handle the health care bill opposition perfectly right? Probably not.
Does that failed opposition change the catastrophically dangerous impacts of this new legislation? Absolutely not.
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