But why one and done? There should by now have been many votes, reminding Americans of who owns this monstrosity. Democrats forced it down the throats of an angry, unwilling public, while Republicans gamely tried to stop it. That story cannot be told often enough. Several of the accounting shenanigans that Democrats employed to hide hundreds of billions in costs — legerdemain that would have made Jon Corzine blush — have since been exposed as the frauds that they are. Are Republicans content to have that fade from memory while the president uses his bully pulpit to paint the GOP as the enemy of Grandma, clean air, education, and apple pie?
Why not at least have another vote every time a lie in the Obamacare construct is brought to light — again, to remind Americans of how badly the Left wanted this one and how cynically the Reid/Pelosi legions played it? Barack Obama is going to be on the ballot next year, posing yet again as a pragmatic centrist. Isn’t it worth reminding voters as often as possible that beneath the thin veneer lies a committed hard-left ideologue whose views widely deviate from those of the American mainstream? Isn’t it worth reminding Americans that, if he wins, the president is certain to sprint back to his comfort zone — governing from the progressive extreme, not the right-of-center heartland — just like he did the last time?
The problem is not just Republicans’ passivity while a winning issue sits staring them in the face. Phlegmatic GOP leaders will not bestir themselves to address the Left’s obvious Obamacare strategy. Their inaction and lack of urgency help the president enormously.
True, it will be another two years before the main thrust of Obamacare takes effect, but that does not mean nothing happens until then. The financial and regulatory infrastructure is being built. The thousands of pages of statutory directives are already exploding into tens of thousands of pages of suffocating regulations. Americans and American corporations are making their arrangements in anticipation of the law’s implementation, in hope of avoiding paralysis when D-Day comes. Obamacare is being regularized; its architects are shaping expectations so that the public sees it as a fait accompli.
Every day the law’s evils are not highlighted is a day that makes eventual repeal less likely. Yet, while tea partiers and other mainstream Americans become ever more agitated, on Capitol Hill there is no vigor. Rep. Michele Bachmann and a handful of other House Republicans discovered that, embedded deep within the mammoth bill Democrats said had to be passed before we could learn what was in it, there was provision for over $100 billion to begin funding the law right away — not beginning in 2014 but beginning now. Yet they could not rouse Republicans to outrage, much less to a vote that would undo at least that offensive portion. Obamacare may not be open for business yet, but the fortress is under construction and Republicans appear content to pay for it, while mumbling about how they only “control one-half of one-third of the government.” (That it is the one-half of one-third from which every penny of government spending must originate and be approved seems not to matter.)
We conservatives get used to the fact that, even when it comes to matters of gargantuan importance like a government usurpation of a sixth of the economy, the GOP appears to have less than a sixth of the energy that the Left musters for comparable trifles. Just ask Bush attorney general Alberto Gonzales, who got run out of town two steps ahead of the lynch mob over nothing — the firing of a handful of patronage appointees the president needed no reason to fire. Democrats have no fear of being nakedly, aggressively partisan. But thanks to establishment consultants who warn that active opposition to a terrible law will be caricatured as insensitivity by the left-leaning media, Republicans are so fraidy-scared that lethargy has become their default position.
This syndrome gets even worse when litigation is involved. When you proceed from the premise that zeal is a four-letter word, nothing is more enervating than the prospect that judges will do your heavy lifting for you. In my random canvass on the cruise, “Remember McCain-Feingold!” had the ring of “Remember the Alamo!” Conservatives haven’t forgotten the lesson. Cravenly, too many congressional Republicans, along with President Bush, decided they could go along with a blatant violation of core political-speech rights. After all, why endure all that New York Times demagoguery about “money in politics”? Why do the responsible thing and make the case for First Amendment liberties when surely the Supreme Court would save the GOP by invalidating the law?