I dunno, I’ve not said much about this as the momentum has shifted from probable failure to inevitable success. Fear of the jinx, no doubt. Cautious assessment, to be sure. After this bipolar year, the road has swerved so many times that I can do little but brace myself.
The year has been a clinic on what’s wrong with Washington. The Democrats were divided, cowardly, and compromised by insurance campaign dollars. The Republicans were obstinate, ignorant, deceitful, disingenuous and- worst of all- steadfastly united in their despicability. The Senate tried to neuter the best parts of reform, and in the case of the public option, succeeded. The House, filibuster-free, still couldn’t capitalize on a huge majority over a fictional objection that abortions would be federally funded.
It was a clinic on what’s wrong with our press. Republicans freely spun whatever tales they wished, and the press rarely bothered to contradict them. Death panels, health care for illegals, and OHMYGOD DEEM AND PASS IS TEH END OF THE COUNTRY!!! all generated free ink over more fiction. We kept hearing how Obama was supposed to have waited on health care, that he made a terrible miscalculation in trying this at the same time the economy was tanking, that Republicans are going to clean up in November because of it all, etc. We didn’t hear much about the broken system we have and how costs were spiraling out of control, how the economy was robbing more Americans of health care every day, and how the HCR bill implements new reforms that will potentially grow to rescue us from long term bankruptcy.
It was a clinic on what’s wrong with our public. Saddled with a system everybody knows is broken, people still trembled that HCR might add a percent to their premium while private insurers were adding several percent a year. Saddled by an economy broken by Republican policies, voters turned into all-purpose anti-incumbents and gleefully voted in smiling idiot Republicans who had zero ideas and absolutely no apologies for the way things were run before. After eight years of credit card spending by George W., voters suddenly took on Tea Party dementia over the deficit and worried about the HCR bill when it earned better marks from the CBO than anything Republicans had ever mustered. After a Herculean effort to make sure the bill didn’t just pay for itself but actually reduced the deficit, voter trust of Republicans on the deficit rose steadily.
But in the end, the merits of health care reform kept defeating the noise. People knew the system had to change. The press couldn’t make anything out of consistently great CBO projections that kept getting better ($1.3 trillion over twenty years? So much for that “What about the second decade?” talking point from Republicans). Republicans kept trying new tacks and failing to do anything more than capitalize on general anxieties rather than specific objections (hint, guys: screaming about Communism when we already have a heavily socialized system didn’t really merit traction). And outraged Democratic grassroots groups kept sticking their representatives in the ass, going apeshit enough over the loss of the public option that other numerous victories in the bill seemed uncontroversial and safe.
President Obama hasn’t always made the year easier either. His long game is simply infuriating at times, and seems to involve deliberate disappointments strategically timed to soften up his opponents for sudden thrusts forward. How many times did we think Obama was all pussied out, before he came back swinging…before he pussied out again, ad infinitum? I’ve felt completely deflated over and over again, only to have President Obama redefine how the game is played.
Just think how Republicans are going to feel if he pulls this off tomorrow. My suspicion is that they’re utterly gassed. Have you really heard much from them lately? Oh, they’re trying to sound ominous and threatening, letting us know Democrats are making a terrible mistake, that they’re really going to stop us this time, etc. But it all sounds a bit resigned. The prospect of trying to run against this bill in November suddenly doesn’t sound so easy anymore. Nor will it become easier.
But enough. Tomorrow beckons…