I can't say I'm surprised by how both liberals and conservatives are reacting to last week's passing and executive approval of health care reform. After making several minor concessions, the Democratic majority passed far-reaching legislation in a manner that would've been unheard of five years ago. In short, President Obama succeeded where nearly all of his predecessors from TR onward had failed. Where Democrats are rejoicing, Republicans are seething, and independents and moderates are wary. It's a victory on paper for the Dems, no question about that, but the moral victory remains to be seen. Half the country has their misgivings about "Obamacare," but they'll have to learn to swallow this big pill, figuratively and literally. The various lawsuits, noble in their intention, will likely fail. It is what it is, and 1/6th of the nation's economy has been irreversibly changed.
In the wake of the March 21st vote, a rash of vandalism and character assassination has hit several Democratic lawmakers (or in one case, a legislator's brother). Bricks have been thrown in windows, death threats have been faxed and called in, the list goes on. On the floor of the House of Representatives, pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak was taunted as a "baby killer" by a fellow anti-abortion (albeit GOP) congressman. Yet one incident was like something out of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Did anyone hear about this story, then thought about that one scene where the Boy Rangers rally for Sen. Smith in his hometown, then get rammed off the road by Jim Taylor's henchmen? Thank God that little girl wasn't injured. Sure, Rep. John Boehner went on Fox News to condemn all these actions, but it doesn't feel like enough.
It's saddening to think that this is what political discourse in this country has been reduced to. The tea parties don't want to hear a second opinion, they just want to reinforce their fears and underinformed viewpoints; instead of exchanging new ideas, they only get louder and shriller. I'm not implying that the Tea Party movement is behind all this reckless behavior, but the influence is certainly there. I want to give Boehner the reason of a doubt that the GOP core is not encouraging this mob rule, yet it was their ineffectual response to Obama's original platform that set the wheels in motion. (His "Hell no!" speech didn't exactly help matters.) How many of these tea-baggers are accepting unemployment checks, social security, and/or Medicare? How many of them would be willing to sacrifice those "socialist crutches" for their common cause? Will they keep protesting if the economy improves? Either way you look at it, in the long run somebody's going to look awfully sheepish.
Next week: my ever-so-slightly-delayed 2010 baseball preview.