Jim DeMint famously characterized the Health Care Reform bill as President Obama’s Waterloo, a statement that earned him the disdain of every pipe-puffer and low comedian in the MSM Rolodex. While I stand second to none in my admiration for Senator DeMint I have to admit his critics were half-right (representing a one-time 50% improvement over baseline, but not to digress); he had the right emperor but the wrong campaign.
Cue Tchaikovsky and the cannons.
Yes, I am talking about the Russian campaign of 1812. The one where refreshments were not served, transportation was not provided, and the winter wonderland thing got old in a hurry. Waterloo, while a great metaphor for decisive defeat, is all wrong for what we are witnessing. It was over too quickly and lacked the particular epiphany that occurs when Moscow has just burned to the ground and there is 1500 miles of scorched earth between you and your next croissant.
If this “Holy Smoke” moment (the term “Smoke” wasn’t my first choice) hasn’t occurred to the Democrats yet, it will soon. It took Napoleon’s guys a few days of partying in the city (and wondering where the heck everyone had gone) before they realized room service wasn’t picking up.
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
If anything, this understates the issue.
Like the little General before them the Democrats have invested enormous blood and treasure getting this far. If they are successful in dragging what remains of their army through the city gates they will no doubt declare a victory, open the Vodka and wait patiently for the other side to surrender. Like the Corsican Ogre before them they will need to get used to disappointment, because Tsar Alexander was a girly-man compared to what awaits them.
- A state-level revolt is already brewing to limit or exclude outright the provisions of this bill is already underway.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), at least 36 state legislatures are now using the legislative process “to limit, alter, or oppose selected state or federal actions, including single-payer provisions and mandates that would require purchase of insurance.”
- This will almost certainly end up in one or more challenges in the US Supreme Court, at least some of whose members have been waiting for the right case to revisit the Tenth Amendment issue. Let me go out on a limb by saying with this HCR balls-up they will have found it.
Obama may have embraced a few Republican ideas as part of his new plan, but that doesn’t amend the Constitution. The fact that the president wrote that he would continue to draw on the best ideas from both parties, and that he is open to these proposals doesn’t mean that he is open to the proposal that Congress has no authority under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution to event enact most of what will be contained in his final plan. His reaction to such a proposal would probably be similar to Nancy Pelosi’s reaction when she was confronted with it. With undisguised hubris, she asked the reporter, “Are you serious?”.
- The Senate Republicans, smelling blood in the water, will do everything in their power to derail or delay reconciliation. Of course, the Democrats could just skip reconciliation and live with the original Senate bill, in the same way I could just take my toaster into the shower, but it is unlikely. There is a minimum standard (and we are setting the bar microscopically low here) of good will and honesty among the Democrats and shafting them would probably complicate the next economy-destroying piece of legislation they are contemplating.
Not that they will be able to give that much attention in any event. Because …
- As the full details of this bill – and the resistance to it — become rotating banners on every web site and media outlet dealing with such things, it will energize grassroots activism on a scale that will dwarf the events of last summer. One-sixth of the economy is not Monica Lewinsky (Bill Clinton’s protestations notwithstanding) – exhortations to “move on” will not get much traction – and this thing will fester well into the mid-terms and beyond.
So, while the view from the parapets of the Kremlin might be lovely this time of year, the Democrats, might want to rethink breaking out the caviar just yet. They are a long way from home and the weather isn’t getting any warmer.