Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Couch

Roger L Simon visits DC to take the pulse of the nation's leadership as it debates momentous issues of war, finances, and health care: Congress: Govt Healthcare For Thee, But Not For Me
Speaking of depressed, I don’t think I’ve even seen the nation’s capital in such a genuinely depressed mood. In my job, I have made multiple visits in recent years, but the atmosphere now is almost unnerving. No one seems to really likethis healthcare legislation (how can you like what you couldn’t possibly read?). People just care about enacting or defeating it. The level of discussion is nihil; there is no discussion. Cap-and-trade, Afghanistan, everything is in a weird stasis. Some Republicans gloat that the administration seems to be imploding – and perhaps they are right – but there should be a cautionary note in all this. Imploding seems to be the natural state of this city. A party arrives in victory and months later they are in shambles. What’s astonishing about the Obama crew, however, is that they arrived on the wings of untold optimism supported by almost the entire media and still they have plummeted to near nothing in less than a year. Scary.
A problem for Democrats is that they are expert at getting elected - they know they can count of favorable media coverage for their candidates and policy prescriptions, matched by highly negative coverage of the opposition, plus their allies are adept at gathering votes whether through bused-in union rowdies or manipulation of the voter rolls - but once elected their philosophy (and its adherents) demand the passage of laws and the pursuit of policies that are intensely unpopular. So Dems tend to obfuscate and redirect, rather than lead. The result is stasis.

Dems don't want to fight the Afghan War, but they know they'll be branded as losers if they actually try to leave, so instead they engage in the "nuanced" considering of all options, all the while undercutting our allies in Kabul and our generals in theater with the hope that something will give and they can walk-away without penalty.

No one outside of Henry Waxman's office could possibly think that raising taxes on energy use could have a beneficial effect on "climate change," and Dems know in their heart of hearts that increased taxes will be a burden on the economy. Not only that, global warming/climate change is looking to be a scam with each passing day.Yet the momentum to pass cap 'n' trade - while supposedly DOA - appears unstoppable. People like Al Gore and James Hanson, plus all of those California Greens, have spent decades working towards this moment; hobbling the US economy in the name of the environment. They are nearly at the point of no return where they will get what they want or finally be told: no, we don't have the votes or the desire to do this. Do you want to be the Democratic solon who has to tell the Sierra Club that they really can't hope to pass cap 'n' trade? I wouldn't, hence the stasis.

Then there's health care reform. Not only is it unpopular with the public; the parts of reform that the Dems want the most - the public option, funding for abortion, coverage for illegals, government panels - are the most unpopular. So instead of bold leadership and soaring speeches, we have 2000 page bills, Saturday evening votes, and political pay-offs to the Senator from Louisiana. Instead of a buttonholing LBJ, we have a spectral Harry Reid corralling lobbyists instead of votes. No one seems to want to work hard pass this, least of all the president for whom this is supposedly a top priority, and yet no one wants to be the Democrat who refuses to help pass the Left's most cherished domestic goal.

In many ways, the Dems' skill at getting elected is also their curse. Having been voted into office, they pursue goals that the voters largely dislike, yet which the Dems' money men demand. Instead of striding boldly into the future, the Dems end up trying to sneak the future in on little cats' feet. Who wouldn't be depressed by this?

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