Green Room

The Obamic Wars Have Hardly Even Begun

posted at 8:45 pm on December 22, 2009 by

I very much doubt that the outmanned troops trapped and facing capture or death at Dunkirk winked at each other [and] said, “Those Nazis have really stepped in it this time. We’ve got’em right where we want’em.”

Thus Robert F Laird of the blog Instapunk, replying to my “in defense of rightwing Leninism” post (under the title “Don’t despair about Obamacare” at HotAir). Mr. Laird views my position as advocating that we “accept our inevitable strategic defeat on the bill itself and buoy our spirits with dreams of the vengeance to come…” – as against his emphasis on the fight at hand: “If any of those dreams cause us to fight a scintilla less hard against the imminent disaster of passage, I am opposed.”

In my view, a strategic defeat would imply a definitive political re-alignment in favor of the left. I cannot agree that a defeat on this health care bill would in itself rise to that level. I acknowledge, however, that what the Obamacrats seem to be change-and-hoping for is that a major tactical victory on this single front could take on strategic consequences. As Kimberly Strassel argued Friday in the Wall Street Journal, echoing the views of conservatives like Mark Steyn, Andy McCarthy, and Mark Levin, liberals may indeed be “think[ing] big”:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

It’s heady stuff for the pages of the WSJ – Obamacare as Cthulhucare – all the stronger coming in the middle of an article devoted to the by now familiar theme of “Democrats’ political suicide” – the raft of polls indicating public rejection of their hyper-partisan, self-aggrandizing and self-dealing, dishonest and tone-deaf approach.

Though many Democrats may believe that the public will come to like their work or at worst put it in perspective by the next and after-the-next elections, and though others may believe they’re simply doing what they were sent to Washington to do, the notion of a long-term strategic view does at least offer a rational explanation for their conduct. In another sense it’s just an uncomplimentary, some might say paranoid, translation of the Democrats’ own self-serving descriptions of their “historic” accomplishment (or near-accomplishment). Where I disagree with Laird and Strassel is that, even if the liberal brain-trust really is thinking along those lines, that doesn’t make their strategic concept right, and it doesn’t mean that this bill (or set of approximations of a bill) will serve their larger strategic purpose effectively.

Health care may be a critical struggle, and a final resolution on the Obamacare-defined front might carry strategic implications, but, for now and for the foreseeable future, it is still only one front in a larger war. As I’ve found myself repeating lately, health care may represent up to 1/5th of the economy, but 5/5ths are at stake. Put simply, we could win this particular battle on health care, and still lose the country. Conversely, we can cede ground on health care legislatively, but, under a stratagem as old as warfare – and fist fights – we may someday gain it back by exploiting the vulnerabilities that the other side’s unsupportable advance has created. Such a tactical reversal could also be of potential strategic significance, but in our favor: These are high-risk maneuvers for both sides, and the signs of over-extension, including but hardly limited to unconstitutional overreaching, in the O-crat salient already go well beyond the poll readings.

In the meantime, openly proclaiming an objective to be essential to the entire effort may persuade our own forces to fight harder today, but it puts us in an even worse position if tomorrow Healthcare Hill is still in the Obamacrats’ possession. After declaring the battle essential and seeing it lost, what would we say to our surviving troops? In this light, it shouldn’t surprise us if, wherever this discussion is playing out under the prospect of final passage, voices not just of outrage but of total surrender, or, what amounts to the same thing, of sedition and rebellion, are already sounding out. And why should the soldiers trust us the next time we say, “We really mean it this time – this is THE battle”? On the other hand, if a late access of public outrage and Democratic fratricide collapses the project at the 11th legislative hour, or if other forces intervene, are we to de-mobilize, thinking the war is won, leaving the GOP professionals to do the mopping up?

Just after I read Instapunk’s reply yesterday, I was amused to see that Dick Morris had also taken up the Dunkirk theme, re-casting the close of Churchill’s immortal speech following the British army’s rescue, looking to the struggle ahead:

If they beat us in the Senate, we will fight them in conference. If they beat us in conference, we will fight them in the House. If they beat us in the House over healthcare, we will fight them over cap and trade. We will fight them over immigration and amnesty. We will fight them over the deficit. We will fight them over the debt. And we will fight them in 2010. We will fight them in the House. We will fight them for Senate seats in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and Arkansas. We will fight them in Colorado and North Dakota and California and Washington State. We will fight them in Illinois and in New Jersey. We will never, never, never, never give up! Our country is at stake!

I’d much rather have American patriots responding with such defiance and determination than have had Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, or any other senator or party chair or pundit or blogger or commenter, sorrowfully describing what this bill “will” do to health care, to our seniors, to the states, to the economy, to our national future and to the most intimate decisions of our personal lives. Until the day the bill is enacted, fully implemented (sometime around 2016, apparently), and really paid for not just once or for few years but sustainably, there is no “will,” there is only what it “would do” (or would have done).

McConnell’s more recent comments to the National Review – looking forward to the cavalry’s arrival come 2010, promising that health care would be a “multi-cycle” issue – were much better. I was also glad to hear Republican Chairman Michael Steele take up the repeal theme, and to watch Karl Rove receiving an “amen” from conservative über-pessmist Mark Steyn on the idea that the Democrats may have unintentionally done wonders for the cause of individual freedom, by setting themselves up for an amplified version of the revolt that killed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage act of 1988 one year after passage. Jay Cost’s recent post on the historical precedents for a populist ballot box revolution against the Obamacrats is also well worth reading.

Though the despairing cry of “once passed, it’s forever” will still be heard from the mouths of those who’ve been told as much over and over by well-meaning rightwing seers, it is not supported by the full historical record – nor can anything be proven (too few data points, no inertial frame) by reference to the relatively short political history of major American entitlement programs. However things turn out on this bill, I reject “nothing you can do about it” as an American answer to any inequity, any form of tyranny, or any governmental excess. Asserting the impossibility of correcting legislative error may sound wisely cynical, but it presumes the end of American democracy, the falsification of the very theory of America. If we can’t take our fate into our own hands, and trust ourselves to do whatever we finally need to do, whether others including ourselves have ever done it before or not, then, with or without Obamacare, we’ve already seceded from America, from any idea of republican democracy, whatever we decide to call our new, shrunken state of existence.

Let the Democrats take ownership of divisive, anti-constitutional, anti-democratic policy and politics. American conservatives are the ones who are supposed to believe in and stand ready to protect constitutional government, and on a fundamental level that means we must believe there is nothing that an American government can do wrong that Americans cannot fix. Assuming as much doesn’t weaken us for the present struggle: It’s the basis of the struggle, and why we fight.

cross posted at Zombie Contentions

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Well put!

….er, except that bit about Cthulhucare….

cthulhu on December 22, 2009 at 9:00 PM

LOL – present supernatural company excluded.

CK MacLeod on December 22, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Where’s Dick Armey when you need him?

Robert17 on December 22, 2009 at 9:16 PM

Though the despairing cry of “once passed, it’s forever” will still be heard from the mouths of those who’ve been told as much over and over by well-meaning rightwing seers, it is not supported by the full historical record – nor can anything be proven (too few data points, no inertial frame) by reference to the relatively short political history of major American entitlement programs. However things turn out on this bill, I reject “nothing you can do about it” as an American answer to any inequity, any form of tyranny, or any governmental excess. Asserting the impossibility of correcting legislative error may sound wisely cynical, but it presumes the end of American democracy, the falsification of the very theory of America. If we can’t take our fate into our own hands, and trust ourselves to do whatever we finally need to do, whether others including ourselves have ever done it before or not, then, with or without Obamacare, we’ve already seceded from America, from any idea of republican democracy, whatever we decide to call our new, shrunken state of existence.

Money shot, CK.

This abomination of a bill can only be “forever” if we lack the will ton continue fighting it, and using every means necessary to overturn it or to at least extricate ourselves from its authority.

If we have the will to put all options on the table, then you damn well bet we can beat this thing, sooner or later.

I like Steyn and McCarthy most of the time, but dammit, I fcking hate defeatism which is just an excuse for surrendering because one lacks the will to fight. If they want to feel that way, then they should get a ticket to DC now and start licking the boots of their Democrat masters now. The rest of us will continue the fight out here, some how, some way.

thirteen28 on December 22, 2009 at 10:28 PM

Totally agreed. People keep forgetting that what makes ending an entitlement hard are the people depending on the entitlement. You can always convince those who are eating government cheese that they will starve without it. But this bill won’t have a single dependent before 2014. That’s over two elections away! Plenty of time to get the majorities we need to take the whole thing out.

Sekhmet on December 23, 2009 at 12:51 AM

the 60th vote lies in one State Senator Scott Brown running for Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. He is on the tail of his opponent Martha Coakley because even in Massachusetts people are tired of what is going on in Washington. Though everyone likes to say we are a blue state, we elect fiscal conservative Governors……

If you want to stop this bill donate at
scottbrownforussenate.com

Ricki on December 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM

But this bill won’t have a single dependent before 2014. That’s over two elections away! Plenty of time to get the majorities we need to take the whole thing out.

Sekhmet on December 23, 2009 at 12:51 AM

Your comments are always well done. Here, however, Dems have tossed in a few immediate sweetners that, I think, enable them to laud what great things they’re doing. One has to do with eliminating the ability to reject kids with pre-existing conditions, and a second has to do with eliminating caps on coverage. I think there’s a third, but I can’t recall what it is.

At any rate, I wish there were some reliable information telling us how much of an impact those provisions will have. In other words, how many people are actually helped by these provisions. I suspect it’s small and assuming it is, the response should be that we could solve these problems without this monstrousity of a bill.

At any rate, I comment because I’m concerned that Dems are swiftly spinning this turd into some form of immediate relief for 300 million people when it’s not.

BuckeyeSam on December 23, 2009 at 10:21 AM

HUZZAH!

alexwest on December 23, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Looks like its time to move to Texas or Alaska…

Wolftech on December 23, 2009 at 10:34 AM

I imagine many of our troops would like to be home for Christmas with their families too. But they don’t quit—never have, never will. Wish we had some legislators that had a little of the troops courage.

Herb on December 23, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Sekhmet on December 23, 2009 at 12:51 AM

True. I think what the right needs to do is focus on the ‘uninsured’ numbers for the next few years. They obviously will not change, and will most likely grow. So, couple that with the enormous cost this bill is putting on the backs of the unborn, and you have a rallying cry.

cntrlfrk on December 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Robert F Laird of the blog Instapunk

I can’t even tell what this hair-splitting supposed controversy is about, so my contribution will be to suggest Laird’s book, The Boomer Bible. It is an amazing commentary on, well, everything.

It’s set up like a Bible, with cross-referenced notes etc. You will laugh out loud. It’s especially enjoyable if you are familiar with the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (er, Brayer), and the 1940 Hymnal.

Also even funnier for denizens of Philly, or those at least somewhat familiar with it environs, social scene, and history. If you aren’t familiar with these things, you will be upon reading the BB.

It wasn’t widely read because the publisher pulled it back once morons started complaining that Laird was mocking the Bible. He isn’t. Don’t make that mistake. It is a brilliant piece of work, true art, rapier wit, and astounding vision. One of the truly great books of the last half of the last century.

Akzed on December 23, 2009 at 10:37 AM

I couldn’t make it past this sentence:

I cannot agree that a defeat on this health care bill would in itself rise to the strategic level, if by strategic we mean a permanent and definitive political re-alignment in favor of the left, though I do acknowledge that a major tactical setback could take on strategic consequences, or at least that the Obamacrats may be change-and-hoping as much.

Is there a Cliffnotes?

james23 on December 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Collectivism cannot survive except by cannibalizing productive enterprises.

Containment worked against the collectivism of the Soviet Union. But it only worked because it suffocated, destabilized and then collapsed the government. Some elements in the Russian government still retain that same insatiably cupidinous philosophy; but now they simply lack the ability to do anything about it.

We have to understand that containment is a really, really BAD idea when it comes to the elements of American government who are trying to create a collectivist tyranny within our borders.

This is a cancer. Whether it takes a scalpel or an axe, it must be removed. If any trace remains, it will simply grow back more virulent than ever.

logis on December 23, 2009 at 11:28 AM

(Digression on style:

james23 on December 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

James, it was my tribute to James – Henry, that is, not 23. Obviously, I must have thought the sentence a perfectly good sentence, or wouldn’t have written and published it, but I can see how it might have gone better as a more journalistic series of shorter sentences rather than a compound grotesque – viz:

A strategic defeat would imply a definitive political re-alignment in favor of the left. I cannot agree that a defeat on this health care bill would by itself rise to that level. What the Obamacrats seem to be change-and-hoping for is that a major, tactical victory on this single front could take on strategic consequences.

Or something. Anyone else think it would be better that way? We aim to please. May go ahead and change it anyway.

Also, fyi, in the Age of Obama, we call them “Precipicenotes.”)

CK MacLeod on December 23, 2009 at 1:10 PM

As others have said, the great irony of Statism is that it needs a productive economy to survive – at least in its’ initial stages.

It cannot buy the loyalty of the electorate without revenue or at least the promise of future revenue from the productive class.

The Statism may be able to print or borrow what they need, but without enough achievers to sacrifice themselves to the collective, the system will collapse.

This will happen anyways, but if people take their own fate into their hands, this inevitable progress can be stopped:

National Strike – January 20, 2010

Chainsaw56 on December 23, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Hmmm, there are several points I wish to bring up in contravention to the overly polyannish tone of this article. But time constrains my response, so I’ll only address the most prominent.

The gravity Obamacare respresents in becoming law cannot be underestimated. Lenin, who may be presumed to know something of the topic, stipulated that “Medicine is the keystone of Socialism“. A keystone is the critical piece central to an archway that locks all the others in place and hold the entire structure together. Without this stone the integrity of the endeavor is compromised and will not last.

His stance on this was built on the recognition that once Gov’t becomes involved with anything, by definition it becomes politicized. Once politics becomes determinant in deciding the what, when, and how, not to mention the who gets medical care then politics become the means by which such care is attained.

Socialism is bureaucratic by nature, so placement in the Heirarchal structure depends upon ideological purity and that placement serves as advantage in where in line for care in a “rationed” system. Then bureaucratic connections or favors become the “coin” of the market, as they always do in a socialist system, as no other is allowed. This cements loyalty to the State in the position to determine life & death, this is a path to absolute power.

While many would protest they would remain above such mechanations on the basis of the morality of the issue. When confronted with a child in need of an inhaler or a parent in need of insulin, methinks protestations will fall silent.

This I think effectively dispells the notion that the passage of Obamacare is but a tactical loss instead of strategic. The Keystone to anything cannot be considered peripheral to the matter at hand, Lenin understood its centrality to power, and Obama does as well. The progressives’ mean to acheive absolute hedgemony over every facet of life, Obamacare is central to that effort.

Sorry if the above is disjointed, I’ve been repeatedly interrupted in making this response, and I am sure it shows.

Archimedes on December 23, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Archimedes on December 23, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Excellent points – that was a very good articulation of the danger the nation is in.

Nationally Socialized medicine is the holly grail to the Statists – it is why they have fought for it and withstood sinking poll numbers for so long.

To be blunt, only fools think that Obamacare is about caring for people, the hard left Statists know that this all about control, Conservative know it is all about control, that is why we must fight them on this every step of the way.

Chainsaw56 on December 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM

Archimedes on December 23, 2009 at 1:22 PM

No need to apologize – I thought your comments were strikingly coherent, enough to strike fear in the heart of a respondent facing a possibly less disjointed rebuttal.

My main point in reply would be as follows: What you and Vladimir Ilyich say might be true of full implementation of O-care, but not necessarily of mere passage of this O-care bill.

In a number of ways, government has been deeply involved in medicine for 60 years and longer. One of the great difficulties of this discussion is that we keep on talking about a government takeover of health care as though it’s newly in view, when in a number of ways O-care is just a set of revisions applied to an already very heavily regulated and bureaucratized regime.

So, in one sense the strategic defeat occurred a very long time ago, and O-care is just an expansion of the liberal perimeter – and a desperate reaction to the economic un-sustainability and general unworkability of the entire approach, a problem to which Marxists and their paler imitators have always been rather remarkably insensitive.

CK MacLeod on December 23, 2009 at 1:47 PM

This is all moot. The federal government is $12 trillion in the red, and has promised some $50 trillion in Medicare and Social Security benefits. The current actions of the Federal Reserve are designed to pump even more debt into the system.

T-Bills are being bought largely at the short end. This means fewer and fewer are expecting the long end to ever pay out. China is already showing signs of ending their purchases of U.S. debt. More than likely they as well as other foreign entities are making moves to sell what they already hold.

Doubling the national debt in the next ten years as Obamacare is estimated to do? Good luck with that, Barry. The charade that we can continue on this path of piling debt on top of debt won’t continue much longer. You won’t find buyers of our debt at current yields, and pushing those yields higher will effectively destroy the ability of the federal government to fund anything beyond what it collects in taxes.

Even if this watered-down version passes, expect it to lead to a second spike in unemployment as businesses are forced to choose between keeping staff and paying for the increased insurance rates the bill will lead to.

TheMightyMonarch on December 23, 2009 at 2:39 PM

TheMightyMonarch on December 23, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Thank you for the assistance in putting the subject in its larger context. We need much more of this kind of analysis in these parts, IMO.

If it’s true that passage leads to a second spike in unemployment, then it should be a major focus of political activity from then til doomsday – which, as you point out, may be approaching. The difficulty, however, may be in getting people to put their minds around the full implications for any practical response.

The neoliberal hope is that we can continue to find ways to defer the great accounting one more decade, one more term, one more election cycle, one more legislative cycle, one more month, one more week, one more minute… The most powerful and highly paid minds in the world spend every waking hour on this effort.

CK MacLeod on December 23, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Also, fyi, in the Age of Obama, we call them “Precipicenotes.”)

good one!
Did you catch Mark Steyn on Rush today? I think his whole show was more or less on your theme.

j

james23 on December 23, 2009 at 9:19 PM

Nah, didn’t listen to Steyn on Rush – busy guy these days, Steyn, also subbing for Hannity. Has he moved off the pure “end of real conservatism” angle at all – or was the moment with Rove just an isolated brightening of his bleak outlook?

CK MacLeod on December 23, 2009 at 9:40 PM