David Frum was fast out of the gate this afternoon with misgivings, warnings and hand wringing of Republican doom as a result of the passage of ObamaCare tonight. There’s nothing like the weakest among us rushing out with the white hankie to appease the victors as the defenders of private markets and liberty reload for a more important battle. But Frum has been suspect from the beginning and there is much in his recent past that should give the conservative base pause as he frets about “the most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960’s”.
On the other side John Hinderaker refuses to panic at the sight of a Democratic charge into the abyss and rather sees an enemy destroying itself. Read both of these opinions and decide whom you would follow.
Here are the main points of Frum’s fretting:
It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections.
It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.
So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?
Thankfully John Hinderaker at Powerline offers a more realistic view that includes the challenge that Republicans must continue to show some spine:
* The health care battle is just beginning. Next, the Senate will try to enact the House’s “fixes” to the original Senate bill. Some Senators say that won’t happen. If not, then President Obama has the option of signing the original Senate bill–now passed by the House–Cornhusker Kickback and all. I assume he would do that, but the resulting blowback from House Democrats, not to mention the American people, would be something to behold.
* The health care bill’s taxes will go into effect promptly, but its substantive provisions are, for the most part, deferred for four years. This means that we have plenty of time to repeal the legislation. Sure, it will take a new Congress and new President. But repealing this disaster of a bill will by a rallying cry for the American people for years to come. Moreover, even if the Republicans only take over the House in November, and not the Senate, won’t it be possible to throw roadblocks in the way of the bill’s implementation? Won’t budget appropriations be necessary to sustain the various federal tentacles the bill seeks to establish? What will happen if the House simply refuses to fund them?
* I’ve never been prouder to be a Republican. The party’s Congressional leaders have fought this battle to the end on behalf of the American people–with intelligence, toughness, persistence and good humor. The contrast between the parties has never been starker than in today’s debate. If any intelligent Democrats were watching–there must be some left–they had to be embarrassed for their party.
* The health care debate has energized the conservative movement and awoken the sleeping giant, that is, the American people. The Democrats misinterpreted their electoral victories in 2006 and 2008 as a mandate for socialism. Now a majority of voters are intent on disabusing them of that misapprehension. Just about all of the political energy today is on the right–a remarkable fact, only sixteen months after the Democrats’ high-water mark in November 2008.
* Barack Obama has used his political capital–pretty much all of it–on unpopular legislation that will continue to rile the voters for years to come. As a result, Obama is a remarkably unpopular second-year President. And he hasn’t even experienced any bad luck yet. It is hard to see how he will be able to regain his footing.
Now, which of these guys represent the gist of the current political polemic? The whiner or the realist? The white flag waver or the challenger? The defeatist or the optimist? Those aren’t just rhetorical questions because in a few months these points will be raised as they address real political candidates.
Those conservative, libertarian and Tea Party protestors that came to Washington several times during the past twelve months are not looking for a milquetoast leader any more than their predecessors were in 1980. They want some real change.