Amid the chorus of glee over Senator Robert Bennett’s needlessly ignominious political execution, let me sound a discordant note: This event is more about Utah’s caucus-style political nominating system than about Bennett’s supposed sins. Apparently the Senator’s worst misdeed was to vote for TARP. Is anyone really suggesting that vote as a basis for throwing out not only Bennett, who is Utah’s Mr. Republican, but virtually the entire Republican membership of the U.S. Senate?
In Utah’s caucuses, the political parties’ more extreme bases rule the nominating process – more, it seems, than in just about any other state. Before anyone gets too excited about Bennett’s ouster being an expression of national conservative outrage, let’s note that Representative Jim Matheson now faces a primary. Matheson is the lone Democrat in Utah’s delegation. His sin? Voting against Obamacare. In Utah’s caucus system, being insufficiently liberal can get you in as much trouble as not being conservative enough. I found this comment interesting:
Much in the same fashion as what Utah Conservatives accomplished against Senator Bennett, an ideological sense of pureness has overcome Utah Liberals, who want to remove their one chance of representation in Washington, because he isn’t big government enough…. if the Republican Caucus wants to emerge a stronger and healthier coalition come November, I would suggest a gameplan for maintaining a sense of Ronald Reagan’s big tent and his 80 percent friend, not a 20 percent foe approach. If we lose the Ronald Reagan Republican formation, than our movement will shrivel and die, especially if we don’t reinstate the Eleventh Commandment of Republican politics.
Writers in the blogosphere (including yours truly) often criticize our national political class. Well, Bennett is one of the good guys: decent, thoughtful, conservative, classy, and well-spoken. The hard-core anti-Bennett forces in Utah who, amid their gloating, are calling the Senator a RINO have a very heavy burden to carry in winning that argument. Others, like Dan Riehl, wonder whether the tea partiers are controlling the situation quite as much as they think they are.
The tea party movement is a great and important phenomenon, but excesses are excesses, no matter who commits them, and the Bennett episode was one. Excuse me if I don’t join in the celebration.
As we move into a historic weekend for the nation’s healthcare system, here’s the quote of the day, from Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:
Obama let on that this frenzy to achieve passage of a hugely irresponsible and politically unpopular bill was in large part ego-driven when he started hounding House Democrats to save his presidency. (He, however, has no interest in saving their congressional careers as he demands that they walk the plank to vote against their constituents’ wishes.)
This was the candidate who created a cult of personality, who told us he represented the “New Politics,” who was going to eschew politics-as-usual, and who would be post-partisan, post-racial, and post-ideological. Now he’s a handful of votes away from a humiliating defeat. No wonder it’s desperation time. His possible failure would not be a mere political failure; it would be the obliteration of his own mythology.
Should he squeak it out, Obama’s “victory” would come with a heavy price. Gone is the image of a policy sophisticate (try watching that Bret Baier interview a few times without wincing). Gone is the “moderate” moniker. And gone is the notion that he’d usher in a new era of less contentious and less corrupt politics. (It’s a new era, perhaps, but hardly a better one.) There is no mistaking now the depth of the campaign deception. The public has figured out what he is all about. And increasingly, they dislike what they see.
I think the Senate bill is going to pass the House this weekend and that any bill to enact “fixes” will be quickly mired down. So the Senate bill will become the law of the land.
Five or ten years from now we will not recognize the health care system we have, and we won’t like what we see there either. For the rest of our lives, unless this thing is repealed (and don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen) the debate will be like Social Security has been: How much money do we put into this program? That will take place alongside lie after lie about the program’s sustainability.
In fact, what we may have here is a government entitlement that is both unrepealable and unsustainable. The “unrepealable” part is what the Left wants. I’m not sure they care about the “unsustainable” part, because I think their solution to that is for the United States to become like Sweden. I don’t think that’s what the country voted for in 2008.
And yes, insurance companies are a big problem. But buying health insurance will also be a lot different in the future. By federal law, we will all have to buy health insurance, which is not such a big problem to me, but we will have to buy a one-size-fits all policy that meets government standards. Say good-bye to your choices in the matter. And if you think the cost of your health insurance is going down, you will probably be surprised.
This is a big deal, folks. And it’s being passed despite opposition from a pretty large majority of the American people.
Then things are going to get very interesting.
This video clip takes a few minutes to watch, but in it the brilliant young Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin lays out the financial case against Obamacare as well as we have seen that done anywhere:
Here we have the President of the United States, in his State of the Union address, hectoring the Supreme Court over a decision with which he disagrees, and urging Congress to help him circumvent the effect of that decision. This may be unprecedented.
You can see Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head and mouthing the words, “Not true,” in response to the president.
In the history of the State of the Union has any President ever called out the Supreme Court by name, and egged on the Congress to jeer a Supreme Court decision, while the Justices were seated politely before him surrounded by hundreds [of] Congressmen? To call upon the Congress to countermand (somehow) by statute a constitutional decision, indeed a decision applying the First Amendment? What can this possibly accomplish besides alienating Justice Kennedy who wrote the opinion being attacked. Contrary to what we heard during the last administration, the Court may certainly be the object of presidential criticism without posing any threat to its independence. But this was a truly shocking lack of decorum and disrespect towards the Supreme Court for which an apology is in order. A new tone indeed.
Instapundit has a collection of additional comments on this latest episode.
One of the criticisms we hear about President Obama is that he is arrogant. This episode certainly seems to support that claim. And that attitude of arrogance may pervade his administration. In the video, you can see Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, at the Court members’ right. He is sitting right next to them. At least, he was, until he leapt to his feet and, with a grin, began applauding the president’s statement. If nothing else, this whole episode is appallingly impolite.
And to think the president is a lawyer.
“If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
“We are headed toward the moment when screeners will watch watch-listers sashay through while we have to come to the airport in hospital gowns, flapping open in the back.”
–Maureen Dowd, in her New York Times column today, “As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His.” Ed Morrissey wonders whether Obama “has lost Maureen Dowd.” Read the whole thing. (HT: Instapundit.)