My conservative friends have been conspicuously silent of late.
Perhaps they've just stopped speaking to me.
Or perhaps they recognize that what's transpired in the past week or so is, really, indefensible, so they're not going to even try.
This morning, I was thinking about Sister Sarah's taunt during her highly paid Tea Party appearance, her "How's that hopey-changey thing workin' out for ya?"
Pretty well, thanks. Pretty well.
Because politics is serious business but it's still a game. It's still about wins and losses, yeas and nays. And last week, without a single vote from Republicans, healthcare reform passed in this country.
It passed after Democratic members of Congress walked through the Tea Party protest (of a few hundred people, I've heard; nice commitment you've got there, folks) and were spat on and screamed at, epithets that are now well-known and which I prefer not to repeat here.
It passed after an apoplectic John Boehner screamed, "Hell no you can't!"
And now, a week later, Sister Sarah is campaigning with John McCain (because, as Andy Borowitz so amusingly observed, that worked out so well the last time) and has announced that Republicans are the party of "Hell No!"
We knew that, of course. But thanks for the sound bite, Sarah.
A couple of years ago, McCain ran for president on the slogan, "Country First."
Last week, he promised no more cooperation for the rest of the year.
Well, that's OK, John. You haven't shown any cooperation to date. There's no need to start now. We wouldn't want you to ruin that perfect game you're pitching.
As Frank Rich wrote for this morning's New York Times
, the hysteria that's developed isn't about healthcare at all.
No, it's about a world that's changing. It's about white men no longer holding all the cards. Yes, it is very much about having a black president, a female speaker of the House, a Latina on the Supreme Court, and an openly gay member of Congress.
The times, they have a-changed.
Of course, the old white guys haven't done such a bang-up job, have they? Well, no, let me rephrase that. The old white guys have done a bang-up job in terms of benefitting old white guys.
But that exclusive club, with all its well-worn leather and self-congratulation and smoke from cigars, just ain't what it used to be. No, women and minorities have had the audacity to rise through the ranks, to challenge the old-white-guy ethos, to, much to the old-white-guy chagrin, strive to form a more perfect union, a country in which we value others, in which equality is more than just a polite notion, in which people aren't valued solely by the cars they drive and the number of bathrooms in their ostentatious homes.
We have a president who wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who didn't squander an Ivy League education, who – yes, it's true – cares about the welfare of this country, the whole country, not just the top five percent.
And so he went to Washington and extended his hand across the aisle and his effort was met with scorn.
Yet he continued to extend his hand, month after month, initiative after initiative, convinced that the other side would find their way to reason, would stop pouting and realize that this country is in dire straits and needs everyone to work together to right so many wrongs.
Mind you, the party of Hell No, which was then just the party of No, nearly won this round. Last August, healthcare very nearly came off the rails. "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" one person shouted, my favorite moment of it all.
So misinformed were they, so stricken with fear by the likes of Glenn and Rush and Sarah and Fox, that they ceased to understand what they were fighting for. They were fighting because they were told to fight, never mind reality, never mind the truth.
Yet, those who believed in healthcare reform soldiered on. There were no white flags waved, thank you very much.
And just when we thought it couldn't get any uglier, it got so much uglier. More lies, more distortions, more hysteria. Not only is Obama a Socialist Fascist Nazi, they cried, he may very well be the Antichrist!
Oh, the hypocrisy. The exquisite hypocrisy.
This morning, I read this lede in the New York Times
.SOUTH BEND, Ind. — When Tom Grimes lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago, he called his congressman, a Democrat, for help getting government health care.
Then he found a new full-time occupation: Tea Party activist.
In the last year, he has organized a local group and a statewide coalition, and even started a “bus czar” Web site to marshal protesters to Washington on short notice. This month, he mobilized 200 other Tea Party activists to go to the local office of the same congressman to protest what he sees as the government’s takeover of health care.
And now the Republicans are pledging to repeal this landmark legislation, the culmination of more than 100 years of effort that began with Teddy Roosevelt. (Psst! In case you've forgotten, he was a Republican.)
We gesture widely to you. Go right ahead.
Come November, when some of the practical applications of this legislation are already in place, you go right ahead, ladies and sirs, and campaign on taking those benefits away from your constituents. That mother who was finally able to buy coverage for her child with a pre-existing condition? I'm sure she'll be more than willing to give that up. I'm sure skewed ideology will be enough to keep her child out of the hospital again.
From what I've been able to understand in this Yes We Can/Hell No You Can't climate, Republicans are opposed to healthcare reform for fiscal reasons. Never mind that the report from the Congressional Budget Office reveals that this program will lower the deficit over 10 years by more than $1 trillion.
No, it's irresponsible of us to spend this money at a time when we don't have the money to spend! How dare we?!
Except, they don't mention that they had no problem with funding two wars that added to the deficit, that they had no problem with pushing through Bush's tax cuts that added to the deficit, that they had no problem, while they were in power, with granting enormous no-bid contracts to their cronies that added to the deficit.
Nope, all of that was just fine.
Except, of course, that it wasn't. It isn't. It's not.
Or maybe it's about government interference, that no one should be forced to buy health insurance. A show of hands, please, of those who stopped driving to protest government-mandated auto insurance?
Republicans say that they care about healthcare reform. But when they were in power, when they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, they didn't do a damn thing about it. They derailed healthcare reform under Bill Clinton and then just left it in the dirt. They didn't pick it up and dust it off and try to make it better.
So excuse us for not believing that you ever cared at all.
But now you're not in power. And now this horrible thing has gotten done. Never mind that if it didn't get done, it was going to bankrupt the country.
It's not a perfect bill. Though, as many have noted, it tracks very closely to the plan Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. You remember Mitt, right? That Republican who thought he'd be his party's presidential nominee?
No, it's not a perfect bill. Democrats gave up single-payer, Democrats gave up the public option, both in the name of placating Republicans. Well, that didn't work out, now, did it?
But we had to start somewhere.
So we did.
And you, dear Republicans, have backed yourselves into a very tight political corner. "Hell No!"? Really?
OK, have it your way. Run on that. See how your temper-tantrum tactics play in November.
You tried. You tried to lie and distort into getting your way.
It didn't work. It won't work.
Because we're smarter than you give us credit for. The hopey-changey thing prevails.
And to your obstructions we say, "Hell no you can't!"