President Obama and Democrats [are] betting it all that comprehensive health care reform legislation [will] pass Congress. If it does not, they will be severely weakened. Of course, Republicans are unified in making the opposite bet. Keith Hennessey, a former Bush economic policy advisor, notes he is "struck by the enormous gap between the two parties on the strategic calculation being made by the President and Democratic Congressional leaders. If you set aside your policy views, do you think the current path makes strategic sense for the majority? Almost every Republican insider I meet shakes his or head in befuddlement and says no, I just don't get why they're doing this."
Hennessey is, of course, valiantly lying, as no doubt he is paid to do.
Republican insiders are far from shaking their heads in bafflement, they are apoplectic with panic, and Hennessey is fully aware why.
Democrats have wanted to pass health care reform for over half a century. They have the power to push that generational effort forward and they are doing so. What they are about to pass is nothing like the goal at which they have long aimed, but it changes the terrain in epochal ways, setting the stage for the next, better effort. Millions of real American citizens who are presently suffering under the status quo will suffer less as a consequence of this reform, though hardly as many or as effectively as could be helped by means of the sensible single payer health care system so many Democrats now prefer and have done for so long as a matter of policy but know to be strategically unavailable under the present circumstances.
While it is true that the unprecedented obstructionism and hysteria and mob scenes and mass mediated lies may indeed impose short-term, that is to say mid-term, electoral costs on the Democrats -- especially given the lingering recession Obama was gifted on day one and which no Republican has any interest in dealing with except to find in it occasion for further crony-capitalist looting in their usual manner -- it is unlikely that these costs will yield structural shifts even in the short-term. There has never been, after all, a true Democratic supermajority even though Dems have been endlessly pilloried for failing to accomplish what they could have done with such a supermajority, had it actually been available, and meanwhile the House majority, while it may be slimmer, is almost sure to remain with the Democrats.
And as for the long-term benefits... I expect -- as do the Republicans themselves, else they would not be so hysterical in their easily exposed false claims and hypocritical claims and so absolutely lock-step in their discipline -- that even the compromised mess of healthcare reform in the form soon to arrive will be popular. You'll see what I mean by their popularity when you watch the commercials sure to eventuate should Republicans be true to their promise to run on healthcare repeal, when Democrats ask Republicans why they want their constituents to be denied coverage for "pre-existing" conditions and then Republicans respond with the palpable absurdity of the "death panel" nonsense that rivets the attention of corporate media but seems to provide little to no actually-existing electoral advantage to the know-nothings. Media narratives of malaise will shift to narratives of another historical partisan victory for Democrats, "Independents" who tend not to be so much independent in fact as uninformed will respond to the fact that Government is doing something rather than doing nothing, approval numbers are already rising and Republican gambits have yielded shallow impacts. As health care reform is supplemented with stricter regulations and Medicare extensions -- as fixes to deficiencies in the present legislation are likely to require -- things get better and better for Democrats.
Republicans face some fairly dire possibilties. Either finally to relinquish all hope of being a mainstream continent-scaled party and concede themselves to be a neo-confederate neo-feudalist know-nothing white-racist Christianist rump with little impact but to provide new impetus to gun control and civil rights legislation (no, that's not a contradiction) through their fueling of home-grown hate speech and militia-terrorist skirmishing.
I think the highest profile Republicans -- Palin, Beck, Huckabee, Delay, and so on -- are already jockeying for media dollars and don't much care that they are unelectable. I think party figures actually interested in government (despite their relentless anti-governmentality, a contradiction we can leave them to work their way through) are caught between the rock of either alienating the crazytown base where all the remaining right-wing money and energy is or alienating the majorities one needs to be an actually viable governing party. I do think some of the Republicans have bought their own line of bs given the bleakness of the alternatives, and that they are going to come down hard from that lunatic high some morning after.
Unfortunately, I still remain convinced that all this insanity, obstructionism, deception, ignorance -- not to mention Democratic tendencies to seek the higher-ground so as to shoot themselves in the foot on a regular basis, and not to mention, too, altogether too much vestigial corporate-miltarist weaseling and yuckiness on their own part -- is finally aiming in the direction of a long-term that may indeed be too long to arrive in time given the environmental and corporatist and militarist catastrophies that beset us in their urgency.