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.

CHENEY: So?

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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adesnik
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adesnik
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
TheMagicalSkyFather
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TheMagicalSkyFather
6 years 6 months ago

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.

kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
6 years 6 months ago
David, I don’t have to “look to see” whether Democrats criticized Bush and Cheney for ignoring the American people — about everything, not just Iraq. I know that they did. I know that I, as a progressive liberal, did. Here’s the difference, though. The public opposition to the Bush administration’s policies — specifically, if you wish, Iraq — was driven by genuine disapproval of the war — for many different reasons, but the discontent was real. The “public opposition” to health care reform is and has been — as my quotes suggest — largely manufactured by Republicans. The Republican Party… Read more »
adesnik
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adesnik
6 years 6 months ago
Well, I’m glad we agree on a few basics. As you say, the Dems criticized Bush and Cheney for ignoring public opinion, but now support healthcare in spite of public opposition. The new element you introduce in your comment is the suggestion that the American people have been tricked into opposing healthcare. From where I stand, the argument that the public has been misled is one of the last resorts of those who can’t admit that their side just couldn’t make a compelling case. A few years ago, there were plenty of Republicans who insisted that Democrats’ exaggerations and one-sided… Read more »
kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
6 years 6 months ago
As you say, the Dems criticized Bush and Cheney for ignoring public opinion, but now support healthcare in spite of public opposition. No, that’s not an accurate characterization of what I said. My point was not that the Democrats now support health care reform in spite of public opposition. My point was that it’s not true that a majority of Americans oppose health care reform. The new element you introduce in your comment is the suggestion that the American people have been tricked into opposing healthcare. Not exactly. First, your implicit assumption that most Americans DO oppose health care reform… Read more »
kritt11
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kritt11
6 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
6 years 6 months ago
This is another excellent point. The Bush administration lied and misrepresented to get Americans’ support for the Iraq war. None of the justifications they gave for why war with Iraq was necessary turned out to be true or valid. Barack Obama did not lie about or misrepresent the seriousness of the problems with our health care delivery system. The health care system is broken. There IS no functioning health care system in this country. Obama did not make that problem up. It’s real. So although reasonable people can disagree about the specific solutions, no one can reasonably deny the existence… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
6 years 6 months ago

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.

troosvelt_1858
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troosvelt_1858
6 years 6 months ago

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..

Guest
Guest
Guest
6 years 6 months ago
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 CNN.com 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… Read more »
kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
6 years 6 months ago

I didn’t read the NOW press release, but I do think it’s a bit silly to “condemn” the Executive Order thing. As you say, it’s just a reaffirmation of Hyde; there’s nothing in it that isn’t already in the Senate bill. I guess it gave Stupak some kind of psychological cover for agreeing to it, but if NOW was okay with the bill before the E.O., I don’t know why they would be so upset now. Nothing has changed.

troosvelt_1858
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troosvelt_1858
6 years 6 months ago

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

TheIndependentCuss
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TheIndependentCuss
6 years 6 months ago
Kathy, 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… Read more »
kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
6 years 6 months ago

Thanks for the kind words, Jeff, and for sharing your experiences. That’s quite a story.

Axel Edgren
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Axel Edgren
6 years 6 months ago

Way to go, Kathy.

Silver with the follow-up: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/03/fourth-branch.html

DdW
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DdW
6 years 6 months ago

Kathy:

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.

Dorian

http://themoderatevoice.com/18772/guest-voice-dick-cheneys-%E2%80%9Cso%E2%80%9D-or-the-power-of-%E2%80%9Clittle-words%E2%80%9D/

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