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


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.


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?