Health Care Debacle: R.I.P Democratic Hopes for “Permanent” Majority?

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Is it over before even some analysts and Republican pundits said it would be over? In his wildest dreams did Rush Limbaugh really think this could happen?

The sound you’re hearing and angry words you’re reading suggest that the Democratic party is now being strained at the seams. That’s followed by a sweeping sound, as old conventional wisdom is being swept under the rug (again). Some 13 months ago, some analysts were predicting the consolidation of a new Democratic, permanent majority.

That has proven to be about as likely as the consolidation of a new Republican, permanent majority — although the Democrats are now so busy shooting each other and themselves in their feet that you can come up with a scenario where the Demmies will be out of power for a long time.

Why?

In the wake of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s sudden about face to oppose a Medicare buy-in, Democratic progressives are now up in arms, slipping into the same tone and mode they displayed in the late 60s and early 70s where they would teach their party a lesson by not voting or voting for a sure-to-lose third party due to the war and some other issues. Then their party would lose and they’d bitterly complain about all the changes the Republicans made on various fronts because the Republicans now had power due to some Democrats sitting on their fannies on election day.

Some of the developments in the past 24 hours:

  • A liberal talk show host last night said the REAL reason Lieberman threw a monkey wrench into what seemed to be a health care reform compromise, is that because Lieberman did it for Israel. That’s right. The Jew card was actually played here. This talk show host said Lieberman is Congress’ most famous “Zionist” and that Israel wants to weaken Obama so if Obama could be undercut on this issue and weakened it would weaken his clout in the Middle East. So Lieberman essentially did Tel Aviv’s bidding. (Oh.)
  • The latest news on cable and broadcast talk is that there are rumblings that some liberal Senators may vote against health care reform. That would pretty much kill health care reform Barack Obama’s political clout for a while.
  • The anger against Barack Obama and his leadership/lack of leadership (circle the one that reflects your own political bias) grows among Democrats.
  • Former DNC Chair Howard Dean, never an Obama favorite, has urged Democrats to kill the bill and start over. Dean’s impact on some in the party’s progressive wing is somewhat akin to the impact of Rush Limbaugh’s impact on the GOP’s conservative wing: some will now pick up his battle cry. OR some who secretly thought as much will now say it. Dean calls this health care reform bill a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than to AIG.
  • A new charge from some in his party’s left is that the White House keeps expecting concession from progressives but not from Lieberman and centrists. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insists that’s not true — but the issue coming up doesn’t bode well for the Democrats in terms of 2010 or 2012. Will we see calls for an Obama primary challenge? Take your bets how for how long it’ll be before some blog posts suggest that Hillary Clinton will resign and run against Obama. (Uh, oh, this means we have to start seeing yet more posts quoting Dennis Kucinich..)
  • Michael Moore called for a boycott of Connecticut (that’ll NEVER work and probably even Moore won’t follow it since New Haven’s Pepe’s pizza is the best in the world, no matter how much they hate Lieberman.) Will a call for Yalies not to attend classes be far behind:)? Will this start a new trend? Boycott Utah because you don’t like Orrin Hatch…Boycott New York because you hate Chuck Schumer….
  • Some callers on progressive talk shows are saying they won’t vote for or contribute to the Democratic party in 2010 or 2012.
  • Lisa Solod Warren, writing on the Huffington Post essentially writes Obama’s political obituary and contends both Tiger Woods and Obama are examples of black role models who were done in by hubris.
  • Two key unions that have been big Democratic party workhorse are considering opposing the Lieberman-influenced health care plan.
  • A new poll suggests the public has soured on health care reform. Some of this is probably due to this being an issue that never seems to end and the large number of people on the right AND left who don’t like the versions being mentioned because they consider it either too much or too little.

    All of this taken together suggests the Democratic coalition could be unraveling. The main question is whether this is a temporary unravel or the beginning of a major one.

    The tensions will continue if health care reform in its present downsized incarnation passes; if it fails in the Senate, then GOP needs to start measuring a lot of House and Senate drapes — and send someone to the White House to put the order in for 2012 as well. Why?

    Traditionally democracy and political parties have put a premium on aggregating interests and seeking compromise. But compromise is now a dirty word to some on the left and on the right. In the case of the Democratic party, since the 60s part of the Democrats’ political narrative has been a segment of the party at war with another segment or in uneasy truce. If an issue comes up that a segment feels passionately about, part of the party will sit on its hands during elections.

    After the elections the Democrats then learn — as GOPers have learned since Obama took power — that elections have specific consequences. Some of these consequences are about enacting highly specific policies. Others are about a more general tone and an administration’s approach to a host of issues, which could include environment, court appointments and social issues. Despite Ralph Nader’s nice-sounding 2000 and 2004 battlecry, few on the right or left now believe that there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush: it’s the one thing Glenn Beck and Ed Schultz fans will agree on.

    What remains fascinating now is watching some in the Democratic party now dig in their heels and essentially go to political war against their own President who is now portrayed as gutless, a political wuss, or (here comes the dirtiest word of all) a centrist.

    So what we may be seeing today is the beginning of a process where some Democrats being moving to sit on their hands and teach their party leaders a lesson by not supporting the Democrats in 2010 and 2012 — years when tea party protesters and Sarah Palin fans are sure to be out in force.

    But politics isn’t simply “to the victors go the spoils”; it’s also about to the apathetic goes the loss.

    Centrists aren’t popular in either party. But the big difference between the GOP and the Democrats since the late 60s has been this: once in power Republicans generally make greater inroads into institutionalizing their ideas and approach and consolidating and holding onto power.

    When the Democrats won in 2008 it was said that it was a golden opportunity for the Democratic party to to re-introduce itself to the American people and show it could govern after the disastrous final years of the Bush administration.

    Right now it appears that when the health care debate and voting clears away, the choice in 2010 and 2012 could boil down to this:

    Precisely which of the two incompetent political parties is less incompetent?

    And which incompetent party do you choose to bollix up the country and disappoint you for a few more years?

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    • PWT

      Are you saying, then, that I should vote for the least competent party because they will be able to bollix up the country less than the more competent, but still incompetent, party?

    • AustinRoth

      It doesn't matter if you are talking Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal, or Democratic/Republican, only a complete idiot could believe that ANY party or affiliation can ever achieve a 'permanent majority'.

    • dduck12

      Never say never. That's why, as a Rep., I hope O and company can regroup and be more pragmatic.

    • superdestroyer

      The Democrats have little to worry about. The elite white progressives activist are insignificant versus the black, hispanic, and Asians voters. The non-white voters are overwhelmingly Democratic voters and that part of the population is growing. They also will never vote for a green party lead by Michael Moore or the moveon.org crowd.

      The Democrats biggest problem is accepting responsbility. The party of trial lawyers and regulators is so afraid of being second guessed, they they will not act on their own and are more worried about being able to blame the irrelevant Republicans instead of acting on their policy proposals.

      All the Obama Administration needs to do is play the race card and all of the progressives will get back in line. Progressive will do anything to keep from being called a racist. Gong off and starting their own. all white party will be viewed as racist.

    • kraigrichard

      Don't go away mad….just go away. Howard scream Dean's constantly puffing out his cheast is getting old. When someone suffers this badly from Short Man's Disease, and hasn't responded to repeated strong doses of therapy (being shunned) then nothing is going to pry the chip off that whiners shoulder. No one liked working around him in Montpelier, no one like being around him on the campaign trail, and no one wants him around in D.C. Unfortunately one media outlet is taking him seriously. I expect to hear he was on FAUX NEWS not NPR. Team Obama didnt have him around for many a reason For example ….a quick study on racism google Howard Dean and Abenaki.

    • michaelsilverstein

      Crises are times of opportunity as well as anguish. The crises a new Obama Administration inherited from the Bush years could have led to the sort of dramatic and necessary changes needed to bring this country into sync with its people's real needs. That hasn't happened.

      Commentators may blame this on a highly disciplined group of Republicans who will do anything to frustrate a new President and Congress. They may blame a sanctimonious little man named Lieberman for fronting foreign as well as domestic special interests. But the real problem here lies with those given an opportunity to produce and failing to do so — those elected to change who have opted to preserve the outmoded, the unjust, and the foolish.

      Who will honor those who don't honorably adhere to their own principles? Who will follow those who refuse to lead? Who will fight to keep in power those who seek power for its own sake, their sake, rather than ours?

    • http://www.newshoggers.com/ Ron Beasley

      It really makes little difference if it's the Ds or the Rs that win the elections. Our elected officials don't make the decisions it's the oligarchs of corporate America. We can be polite and call or current system of government a corporatocracy but it's becoming very close to Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism.

    • dude1394

      michael moore…that's funny. Isn't he the guy who went all ballistic over obama adding troops to afghanistan and now he's the murderer, baby killer, war-monger etc. Moore is just noisey.

    • Leonidas

      Democrats give up hopes for a permanent majority when they turn left, not when they turn to the center, the GOP was taught this lesson, that the center is the key, but the democrats didn't observe very well through their tinted glasses and are now experiencing the same folly. Will the GOP learn from democratic mistakes? doubtful. Its back and forth thus there will be no permanent majority on either side, with moderates choosing the group that wins by voting for who they hate less.

    • Franco53

      Rush Limbaugh saw it and so did I. I wanted Obama over McCain because I thought the country needed (deserved?) a mouthful of leftism to get right. Now centrists and moderates know what the alternative is, they might become less willing to reach across the aisle to leftist Democrats. They may begin to understand that there really is no “middle” when it comes to leftism and see what these people are REALLY after. The moderates might not react to conservative warnings of “socialism” with such dismissiveness and disdain. And they won't nominate pols like John McCain next time.

    • bobinfl

      “once in power Republicans generally make greater inroads into institutionalizing their ideas and approach and consolidating and holding onto power”

      On what planet? The left owns ALL of the strategic high ground: academia, media/news (except Fox and talk radio), entertainment, the state and federal judiciary (except perhaps SCOTUS, until the next retirement), and the federal bureaucracy (when Clinton fired ALL US attorneys, it was barely a page 17 story; W fired eight after four years, and it was six months of front page stories; also note it was “W's” EPA that began the process of regulating CO2 as a pollutant on the basis of flawed/fabricated data, Obama's merely put the final stamp on that last Monday).

      Dems held the house for 40 years; the Republican record is 12 (the Senate and White House ping pong fairly regularly as voters tire alternately of each set of crooks). The Dems have 20 plans for a permanent majority: making us all slaves of the federal govt, dependent on them for our health/lives is just the first arrow in their quiver. Next up: regulate EVERY aspect of human life under the mandate of “doing something” about “climate change” — these modern day King Canutes will aggregate power such that all of us will have to go hat-in-hand to them for permission to BREATHE (CO2, ya know) and Dems are much better at the spoils game than Reps (compare: Obama's Chicago boys to W's Texas team. Or hell, compare wives: Laura never got a $300,000 do-nothing political job from her Governor/President husband; O swung THAT for Michelle when he was just a state senator!). Or, if THAT doesn't work, then if the current voters don't like you, import new ones who will — amnesty. If that doesn't work, let's just officially classify conservative political ideas as psychological maladies in the DSM… There's a dozen more.

      Republican ideas for consolidation/institutionalizing power? <crickets> “Maybe if we act like Democrats, and pass entitlement expansion (Medicare Part D), allow our sworn enemies to write “Republican” legislation and then blame us for the consequences (Kennedy's No Child Left Behind)”. Oh, and never EVER use the bully pulpit to defend Republican ideas or decisions from attack — Bush lied! 16 words! “Torture”! Gitmo! Evil “Republican” Patriot Act (never mind that it passed something like 429-3) — nah, much better to be stoically silent and watch your poll numbers crater.

      Republicans better than Dems at institutionalizing their power — yeah, I want some of what you're smoking.

    • letalismaximusesq

      It is true that Michael Moore is just noisy, but fortunately for him there are enough hard-core left wing suckers out there who will continue to see his movies. And he is counting on just exactly that. He makes those mockumentaries for a few million bucks, they gross several times that, and he pockets a few more million for himself. You may as well call him “Easy Money Mike.” It is indeed like taking candy away from a baby.

      As to either party having anything close to a permanent majority, forget about it. The greedy scum in both parties cannot resist bellying up to the public trough to gorge on the vast amounts of money that are taken from the American public by gun-point and distributed by and to those in power. It only takes a little bit of time in power for these folks to set their friends, relatives, and allies up with millions of dollars in personal wealth. Greed will out, friends, greed will out.

      Then, of course, a few power and money hungry fools will go too far, get caught, get indicted, find Jesus, and beg for forgiveness. The public will have had enough and listen to the other party telling them a bunch of lies about how, if only given the chance (and majority status), they will drain the swamp of all this corruption.

      Those are lies, of course. And the cycle repeats itself with each party alternatively bamboozling the rubes and then grabbing everything for themselves that they can get.

      As Sartre said: “And so we continue.”

      Or some such.

    • paul_abarge_at_email_dot_com

      Document the comment by the talk show host please. Got a link?

    • mikemorley

      Yes, please, by all means. Who was the talk show host? I've seen similar comments by posters and commenters at DU and Kos and other websites, but I've never heard of such sentiments being expressed out loud on radio or TV.

    • mikemorley

      “They may blame a sanctimonious little man named Lieberman for fronting foreign as well as domestic special interests.”

      Julius Streicher would be proud of you, son.

    • hyphenatedamerican

      “When the Democrats won in 2008 it was said that it was a golden opportunity for the Democratic party to to re-introduce itself to the American people and show it could govern after the disastrous final years of the Bush administration.”

      And indeed the DNC re-introduced itself to the American people, and the results were exactly as I predicted back in November 2008:
      http://hyphenatedamericans.blogspot.com/2008/11

    • twandresen

      You had me until you called Obama a centrist.

    • jeburke

      In what sense is someone who says that Lieberman torpedoes the Reid “compromise” because he's a Zionist and weakening Obama is good for Israel a “liberal…host”? Since when were liberals anti-Israel or, as certainly seems to be the case with this “liberal host,” a Jew hater. And why not identify this odious person?

    • dduck12

      Pretty good forecast. Now, what would have been the disaster if McCain/Palin won, with this congress.
      I think almost as bad.

    • mikemorley

      In response to “jeburke” above:

      These days, a non-trivial fraction of the people we would normally think of as “liberals” seem to be awfully quick to drift into anti-Semitism or something very much like it.

      Don't take my word for it. Run a Google or Bing search for the terms “Lieberman” and “zionist” and “public option.” Read the first few results. Not pretty, is it? Now re-run it as a site-specific search on DailyKos or Democratic Underground.

    • mikemorley

      More evidence of anti-Semitism on the left: a Kos diarist who is certainly no admirer of Joe Lieberman says:

      “As I have perused the delightful diaries and comments about Sen. Lieberman ([barnyard epithet]-CT), I can't help but notice the…how shall I put it, raging Jew-hatred that has reared its head here.”

    • joegandelman

      IMPORTANT TMV COMMENTS NOTE: The comment
      “Julius Streicher would be proud of you, son” is what we need to avoid. The reason: it's always best to stick to and debate (even passionately where temperatures rise) a given post. We try to avoid characterizing writers and commenters and thus turning into something that can be construed as personal. This is outlined in our comments policy. if someone answers a comment that is personal then the other person answers, etc and before you know it its a big grudge match (where people who never even met each other hate each other because they see an issue differently) .I know we all slip once in a while, but do keep in mind that TMV comments is sort of like the wild and wooley west — but there are some important guidelines that need to be followed. Also: you'd be amazed at how people who can completely disagree can debate extensively and really add to a discussion. Once it seemingly turns personal, any chance of a discussion that sheds light on an issue raised by a post ends.

    • ProfElwood

      So anyone who doesn't like what Obama is doing is racist, and anyone who doesn't like what Lieberman is doing is anti-Semitic? Somehow, that still sounds like a way of dismissing people as a group, rather than addressing their argument. Even if there is some legitimate discrimination going on, most of those objecting to and supporting legislation have their own personal reasons for doing so, and calling them names says more about the accuser than the accused.