Obama’s Greek Tragedy
If he signs a health care bill into law this month, in his heart of hearts, the President will be haunted by the ancient plaint of King Pyrrhus, “Another such victory, and I am undone.”
How did 21st century America fall into Greek tragedy while fighting to spread the benefits of civilization to its people? How did rational debate deteriorate into the ancient ritual of a blood feud?
Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s designated voice of reason, writes in an OpEd today, “Should the Democrats’ health-care train wreck make it to the president’s desk, it will be a pyrrhic victory, and its devastating consequences will take their toll on our health-care system, our budget and our economy.”
His argument that the new law is mainly “a range of job-killing tax hikes and controls on all Americans–to fund this new entitlement and to penalize employers and individuals who don’t play by Washington’s new rules” is as simplistic and misleading as White House claims that the bloated, bargain-marred thing will be an historic achievement for fairness and decency.
Pasting Ryan’s handsome young face and wonkish voice over a year of monolithic know-nothing Republican obstruction is undermined by Minority Leader John Boehner’s vow to “make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill.”
But blaming Republicans is too easy, another way of avoiding responsibility by playing their us-against-them game. Democrats would do well to recall a Shakespearian take on the human condition, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
That kind of thinking led Romans to conspire against their Caesar just as today’s Congressional underlings are threatening to undo their leader with squabbles about abortion and other side issues that will profit them politically.
Yet, with all the good will in the world for his pragmatic idealism, it’s hard not to fault Barack Obama for getting himself into this pyrrhic mess.
Instead on analyzing the red-meat issue and formulating a comprehensible plan to deal with its major components, the President stepped back and tossed it into the Congressional boneyard where it could be shredded into scraps.