It wasn’t that long ago — only a little over a year. Now, you can add public opinion to the growing list of Principles Republicans (Now) Hold So Dear (emphasis is in original):

One Republican leader after the next stood up yesterday to depict the health care bill as a grave threat to democracy because it was enacted in the face of disapproval from a majority of Americans.  Minority Leader John Boehner mourned:  “We have failed to listen to America.  And we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.  And when we fail to reflect that will — we fail ourselves and we fail our country.”  GOP Rep. Mike Pence thundered:  “We’re breaking with our finest traditions . . . . the consent of the governed.”  That the health care bill destroys “the consent of the governed” because it is opposed by a majority of Americans has become the central theme of every talking-points-spouting, right-wing hack around.

Of course, these are the same exact people who spent years funding the Iraq War without end and without conditions even in the face of extreme public opposition, which consistently remained in the 60-65% range.  Indeed, the wholesale irrelevance of public opinion was a central tenet of GOP rule for eight years, as illustrated by this classic exchange between Dick Cheney and ABC News‘ Martha Radditz in May, 2008, regarding the administration’s escalation of the war at exactly the same time that public demands for withdrawal were at their height:

RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.


RADDATZ:  So?  You don’t care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

For years, the explicit GOP view of public opinion was that it is irrelevant and does not matter in the slightest.  Indeed, the view of our political class generally is that public opinion plays a role in how our government functions only during elections, and after that, those who win are free to do whatever they want regardless of what “the people” want.  That’s what George Bush meant in 2005 when he responded to a question about why nobody in his administration had been held accountable for the fraud that led to the Iraq War:  “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.”  Watching these same Republicans now pretend that public opinion must be honored and that our democracy is imperiled when bills are passed without majority support is truly nauseating (of course, Democrats back then protested Cheney’s dismissal of public opinion as a dangerous war on democracy yet now insist that public opinion shouldn’t stop them from doing what they want).

Kathy Kattenburg
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Kathy, I think we are 50% in agreement. As I noted in my previous post, Republicans were recently the party of doing what’s right regardless of whether it’s popular. Now the Democrats are playing that role.

I’m curious — did you look to see whether Democrats criticized Bush and Cheney for failing to listen to the American people about Iraq? I can’t provide citations off-hand, but I feel like “ignoring the people” was one of the main Democratic talking point on Iraq — whereas today, it’s all about the courage to ignore the polls.

If you want to be fair and balanced, I think you have to do the legwork on both sides of the issue.


Actually the argument is Bush and Cheney’s, we spread democracy since they are less likely to spread war and invasion due to its lack of popularity. Then they continued to ignore their own, it was rather amusing for a few years.

Kim Ritter

During the Bush years, the GOP tried desperately to create a reality that the public would buy. There were 4-5 differing rationalizations for invading Iraq, none of which really explained what we were really doing there. There were also campaigns by the Bush WH and their allies in the media to paint critics as unpatriotic or as terrorist sympathizers.

When Bush/Cheney lost credibility with the American people, they pretended that they were unconcerned with public opinion. But, for Bush it was an act— he wanted to be loved by the public. That’s why the last year of his administration was spent concentrating on his legacy.


As an American I’m embarrassed by all that republican wailing and gnashing of teeth. I suggest they take a timeout, engage in some self-examination, maybe try a little meditation.

PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor

The Republican behavior on this whole bill has been really disappointing to me. I have issues with the bill and I strongly respect those who have even stronger objections, since people of good intent can have legitimate disagreements.

But the hard line attitude of many on that side of the aisle is idiotic.

At the same time the attitude of some on the left make it tough for me to be on their side too.

Ah politics..


Patrick, I agree. On the one hand, you have an unnamed GOP Congressman yelling “baby killer!” at Rep. Bart Stupak who (ironically) has caught more fire for his principled stand against abortion than any other Democrat. On the other hand, you have NOW putting out a press released roundly condemning President Obama for his executive order upholding the Hyde Amendment. (BTW, the comment thread on that article was running two for one against the NOW position, and many who decried NOW also said they were pro-choice).

Kathy, I love those words quoted from Cheney. The shoe is definitely on the other foot now, and the Republicans don’t like it. Good for the Dems — Nice to see Democratic leaders (however begrudgingly) finding a middle road on this issue.

P.S. — I found it interesting that the cartoon this morning showed health care as a newborn baby.

PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor

Thanks for the kind words Redbus

As I’ve said many times before, I’m strictly black cat/white cat on this issue. I do not care what system solves the problem as long is the problem is solved.

I have concerns about the current law (or soon to be current) but with any luck they will fix the flaws.

Although I am not sure I would support it I’d like to at least see serious investigation of the public option or single payer system



I wish to thank you for touching upon a point I have long tried to drive home: the Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the Democrat victories in ’06 and ’08 and the subsequent health care debacle.

I’m honestly not sure whether or not the wars (and public opinion thereof) played the largest role in the Republican defeat. I tend to attribute their loss to the “What health care crisis?!?” attitude which they displayed for years. I called NC Senator Liddy Dole’s office in 2005 to explain why the ridiculous cost of health care was indeed a Republican issue, specifically because it was hurting small business owners such as myself. The flack on the other end of the phone actually said (and I quote), “Why don’t you go get a real job?”

You know that such an attitude had to have “trickled-down” from the esteemed Senator herself. It was shortly thereafter that I forsook the Republican Party and became an independent. And not long after that, the people of North Carolina told Senator Dole that it was SHE who would need to go find a real job.

Had the pachyderms actually bothered to take some sort of action to help out lower-income workers and the self-employed regarding the issue of health care affordability/availability, I seriously question whether we would now be facing an uncertain future under Obamacare.

But you are absolutely right when you point out that the arrogant Republican fools gave not a moment’s care for public opinion. It really matters little whether indifference toward the wars, health care or some other issue of importance to the public was their principal Waterloo; after all, when one shoots oneself in the foot, it matters little which foot actually took the bullet . . .

Jeff Dreibus

Axel Edgren

Way to go, Kathy.

Silver with the follow-up:

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist


Your reference to Cheney’s infamous “So?” happens to be the subject of my very first post on TMV many, may moons ago.

Even though I say so myself, it’s still applicable today as it was those many moons ago, and you explained it well.