Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Things that make you say...
I stayed up late last Sunday to watch the health care reform “debate” in the United States House of Representatives as it streamed over my computer. I was on single-father duty and my daughter had finally fallen asleep, leaving me alone with my thoughts and my MacBook. At first, I watched in my daughter’s room, sitting on the floor, earbuds firmly planted in each ear, as she fell asleep. But as speaker after speaker came to the microphone to bring up a point of order, parliamentary inquiry, or argument for or against the pending bill, I found myself getting more and more angry.
I am not one with an explosive temper, but I soon found myself muttering foul words under my breath and flashing the bird at the computer screen. I grew worried that I was going to wake my daughter with a string of curses she usually only hears when we watch football at our friend Joe’s house, so I got up off the floor and walked down to the living room—away from my blissfully ignorant girl asleep in her bed.
Once I got to the couch, the earbuds came out and I my sense of propriety all but disappeared. The screen on my computer is now a little blistered by the venom spewing from my mouth.
The year-long debate over health care made it all too obvious that the Republicans have lost their way. In retrospect, it has become clear that one of the two major parties that make our laws and control our national priorities (through government spending) cares far more about politics than about the national good.
During the eight years of the George W. Bush Presidency, exactly ZERO health care reform proposals came from the White House. The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan did pass in 2003, but many of the Republicans protesting the “backroom deals” that put today’s health care reform bill together seem to forget how that particular plan passed just seven short years ago.*
Once Barack Obama came to office and started to seriously push health care reform, it was stunning how quickly so many Republicans suddenly experienced a dual change of heart—they became deficit hawks and they began to care about making changes to our health care system. Where were they for years as a Republican President and Republican Congresses ran up enormous debts? Where were they for years as our health care system bled our nation dry AND left us with the 37th ranked system in the world and tens of millions of uninsured? Once Barack Obama came to town they sure did find religion FAST.
The most telling statements in the health care reform saga come like bookends from Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Back in July Jim DeMint said the Republican goal should be to stop Barack Obama on health care. He said, “If we are able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo.” His goal was to fight the agenda of a Democratic President, not to correct any of the many flaws on the current delivery of health insurance and care to citizens of the United States. He was saying, “Let’s not give an inch—let’s say ‘no’ to whatever he proposes.” It wasn’t about what is best for America but instead about what is worst for Barack Obama.
Senator DeMint certainly did not have the best interests of the people at heart. He was thinking about what was best for the Republican Party’s electoral interests.
Newt Gingrich, made it even more clear when he said of the Democrats in an interview with the Washington Post: "They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years" with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. To Gingrich it isn’t about making the system better—it is about who’s up and who’s down, who accrues advantage and who loses seats. When John McCain was running for President in 2008 his slogan was “Country First.” The Republicans have pissed me off so much in this health care debate, (and in their reaction to Barack Obama’s Presidency in general), because it is clear that their unspoken motto and guiding principal has become “F*** the Country--Party First.”
It is now clear to me why I was so mad and so full of vinegar and foul language as I watched Republican after Republican come to the microphone and spread their lies about the bill. They have sunk to the self-destructive depths of the kindergartener at the party who would rather pop the balloon he wants than share it with anyone.
Vice President Joe Biden was right when a live mic caught him whispering to Barack Obama as he was about to sign the health care bill into law, “This is a f****** big deal.” Yes, Joe. Indeed it is. The Republicans have gone all in in their efforts to bring down Barack Obama and they have failed. Their obstructionism and self-centeredness have been made clear to all and that is enough to make even a kind-hearted liberal like me say f***. Only, I am not saying it AT the Republicans in Congress who are so stuck on NO.
As I tell my students when we study grammar and parts of speech, you can’t really tell what part of speech a particular word is until you see how it is used. It can be an adjective, (as in the case of Joe Biden’s f-bomb), or a verb, (as in the case of Dick Cheney on the Senate floor a few years ago), or it can be an exclamation, as in the current case.
When I see what Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the most of the Congressional Democrats have done, I can only exclaim “f***!”, shake my head, and thank the Lord John McCain lost back in November of 2008.
(*That particular bill came to a vote at three in the morning. The bill was losing 219-215 when Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert began to take Republican members off the floor to try to get them to change their votes. The House Republican leadership decided to break their own rules and hold the vote open for hours as they tried to arm-twist a few, mind-changes. Representative Nick Smith, a Republican from Michigan, said he was offered campaign funds for his son’s election effort in exchange for his “yea” vote. He later changed his story, but not his vote. At almost six in the morning, the bill finally passed 220-215.)