Almost as amusing as watching the Democrats flail in the wake of the Scott Brown explosion is listening to their arguments about why their health care bills have to pass quickly. This despite the fact that most of the country is telling them loudly to stop.
First, they say that because the public is livid at them for wasting a year on this despised legislation, the only way they can get back in its graces is to pass the bills quickly to prove they can get something done.
But the public despises the bills on their substance, as they are much too expansive and will increase costs while reducing access and quality. The public despises the process by which they were fashioned, which involved secret deals, open bribes and technical loopholes.
The public also despises the way the Democrats have ignored objections, as expressed in protests, polls and in three big elections, the last of which (in Massachusetts!) was as close to a referendum upon them as we are likely to see.
In light of all this, the sane thing to do is to ram the bills down the throat of the public — using more threats, bribes and secrecy — and shoving their thumbs in the eyes of the voters. Then, independents, who fled en masse when Democrats began pushing health care, will embrace them again when the bills finally pass.
Surely they will.
Then, they say that because the bill is so huge that nobody knows quite what’s in it, it has to be passed in a rush and before explanation so the discussion about it can really begin. In a democracy, the normal idea is to have the debate before voting, and to pass it once a consensus has formed in its favor, but what’s democracy with the fate of the party at stake?
Anna Quindlen instructs us to shut up and follow the leader.
“Democrats should pass the health care bill now. They can fix it later,” the New York Times’ Gail Collins said.
“Pass the Senate bill and then defend it,” Andrew Sullivan said.
“Once they pass a plan, you can actually talk about a plan,” the inimitable E.J. Dionne said.
In that case, you can talk all you want and you can no longer amend or defeat it. This seems to be the idea.
Then, they say that the bills are in trouble because of the Senate, whose obscene regulations are thwarting the popular will. It’s those pesky, square, “empty” Republican states that are causing the problem. As James Fallows put it, “Senators representing
63 percent of the public vote for the bill; those representing 37 percent vote against it. The bill fails.”
But wait, 63-37 approximates the percentage by which the bill is opposed by the public. The only conclusion is that some senators bought, bribed or bludgeoned into supporting the bill aren’t expressing the will of the people.
Recently, deep-blue Massachusetts elected Brown on his promise to deep-six the measure. By this calculus, John Kerry, Paul Kirk and even Ted Kennedy weren’t representing the will of the Bay State (or Massachusettes, as Martha Coakley would put it).
But forget Massachusetts. Sullivan calls it a “stray result” that should influence no one. “Who elected Massachusetts to decide for the rest of the country whether we move forward on the bill?” said Jonathan Alter, one of the reasons why Newsweek has been cratering.
But in real life, it has been “the rest of the country”: Virginia; New Jersey; Nebraska, which nearly lynched Ben Nelson over the Cornhusker Kickback; and national polls, which for months have been loudly expressing their verdict of a resounding thumbs down.
Iceberg? What iceberg? Reshuffle the deck chairs, and full steam ahead!
Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”