What We Know Now

As it so happened, I was in Washington DC on that National Mall as congress was voting on the mess which is our “health care reform” bill. I hadn’t been to our capitol city before, and it was a simply beautiful afternoon — one on which it was hard to believe that our elected representatives were bringing us one large step closer to a major budgetary crisis point, and Representative Stupak was busy selling out the principles everyone had imagined to be as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar for a rather paltry executive order which may (or may not) come after the fact. (Call me a cynic, but I could well imagine the EO never coming. Though in a sense, why not issue it: It would have no effect and could be repealed at any time. Still, there would be a great deal of justice and truth in Obama using the old Microsoft line, “Your mistake was in trusting us.”)

Still, though sun, green grass, and stone monuments are fresh in my mind, and the largest looming problems in my mind revolve around children wailing that they need a bathroom right now while traveling on the metro (let’s just say that didn’t end well) I don’t want to seem as if I’m discounting the importance of what we’ve just seen. And there seem to be some fairly clear conclusions we can draw:

1) Stupak had no desire to be to abortion what Joe Lieberman chose to be to foreign policy. Lieberman was hounded out of his party and continues to hold office only because of people who disagree with him on nearly every other issue admired his principled stands on Iraq, Israel, etc. If Stupak had brought down the Health Care Reform bill in defense of the unborn, he would have received similar treatment from his own party to what Lieberman has received, and he clearly didn’t want to be that person. Instead, having talking himself into a corner he really didn’t want to be in, he seized upon a fig leaf when it was offered and did what he’d clearly wanted to do all along:

Voted for his party’s bill regardless of the effect on abortion. One wishes, of course, for more principle out of politicians. One wishes that civil servants in the spirit of Cincinnatus still existed. But in this case, no such luck. Of course, the ironic thing here is that he may lose even what he sold out to save. Conservatives will no have no reason to support Stupak (though I disagree with him on many other issues, such as unions, I would certainly have contributed to his campaign in November if he’d held fast, and I imagine many others would have as well), and I rather doubt that his own party will have much interest in supporting Stupak after he came so close to torpedoing them. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go down in the electoral bloodbath now clearly coming November.

2) For fellow conservatives: Though it looked for a while there like because of the election of Scott Brown in the Senate (in conjunction with what appeared to be the emergence in the House of the first national profile pro-life Democrat with a spine since Bob Casey Sr.) we’d dodged the bullet, the passage of some sort of health care bill was fairly obvious back in November of 2008. All things considered, this is better than it could have been. Though it unquestionably is a large further step towards statism, and brings us one larger, fiscally irresponsible step closer to fiscal crisis, from a pro-life and from a conservative point of view, it could have been a lot worse.

3) The die now seems cast that the GOP victories this November will be convincing, perhaps returning the House and even the Senate to GOP hands. However, repeal is impossible without the presidency, and although parts of this bill are already massively unpopular, other parts will probably be popular (primarily guaranteed issue) and the GOP will need to bring some sort of credible alternative health care policy to the table in order to get rid of this monstrosity. If there’s one thing that would be worse than this bill, it would be keeping the popular parts and repealing the unpopular parts.

4) It seems increasingly apparent that although there are very sincere and very upright pro-life progressives (several of whom I have the pleasure of knowing) it is nearly impossible for someone with solid pro-life beliefs to make it into elected high office in the Democratic Party as it exists today. The pressures to sell out are so high that few of those practical enough to be elected can resist.

5) This is very far from the end of the health care reform debate. The bill passed, as it exists now, is something both sides hate. Democrats will seek to change and expand it while Republicans will seek to repeal it, but what has happened thus far spends a great deal of money and has corrupted several souls while in fact pleasing no one and benefiting few. We can expect to see legal and legislative challenges, state moves to opt out, political fall-out and more, for years to come. We can also expect to see zero change in the national life expectancy and an overall increase in the cost of health insurance in the next few years.

21 Responses to What We Know Now

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Darwin. Though I will say this: I am not so sure Stupak’s principles failed today as much as his intelligence. What was he thinking, putting the status of abortion in the health care program in the hands of Obama?

    He was willing to go to war just to keep the Hyde language in the bill, but now he caves and gives the president what amounts to carte blanche? What idiocy. What foolishness! It’s irrational behavior.

    The rabidly pro-abortion Dems who threatened to block the passage of any bill that denied public coverage of abortion are clearly confident that this EO would have little to no effect. Pro-life Republicans also clarified how EOs really work during the debate running up to the vote.

    I will be writing soon on the prospects of nullification.

  • I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    Anyway, surprising indeed.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    It is rare for a political party to walk off a political cliff in lockstep, but that is precisely what the vast majority of Democrats did in the House last night. Most of them I assume have no idea of the political whirlwind they sowed last night.

  • daledog says:

    Donald,
    I hope you are right, but if ‘pro-life’ Dems have not figured out their party by now is there any chance that they ever will?

    Party affiliation first and foremost!!!

  • Chris M says:

    What do you guys think of Bill McCollum, et al and their posturing to kill this in the courts? Do you think they have a shot? I mean, large parts of this monstrosity strike me as blatantly unconstitutional, but I’m no lawyer.

  • restrainedradical,

    Given that the text of the Senate bill, with its more liberal abortion language, predates Brown, I’m unclear how it is the result of his election. Are you theorizing that if the Democrats still had a 60 seat majority in the Senate they would have been more willing to accept Stupak’s language even though they’d initially refused.

  • Art Deco says:

    I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    Nice try, rr, but I do not think the psychology commonly attributed to battered wives is salable in this forum, whether the huckster is you or David Frum.

  • M.Z. says:

    Nice try, rr, but I do not think the psychology commonly attributed to battered wives is salable in this forum, whether the huckster is you or David Frum.

    Oh yes, pro-lifers were the victims in all this. Aren’t they always? I can’t say I didn’t warn you, not like you were listening anyway. Pro-lifers got more out of this than they deserved politically. It’s time for the pro-life movement to stand up, and admit they are facing the adult consequences for their adult choices. Of course that would mean actually holding leaders accountable and not continually giving them a pass. For all the complaining about McClarey’s favorite representative, he’s probably the only reason you have the half loaf you have.

  • Victims? Not particularly, that I can see. We lost lost a battle but won some side engagements along the way, and while it could have been a lot better, we certainly did better than if we’d simply sat around on our hands. (BTW what’s with all this 2nd and 3rd person?)

    That said, we did lose, and in directly because of a loss of either wisdom or principle on the part of one of the main players. In that sense, it’s hardly surprised to see him blamed.

    The point about battered wife syndrome is more that it hardly makes sense to argue that we somehow would have got even more concessions if we hadn’t pushed for anything at all. The Democratic Party is overwhelmingly pro-abortion at this point, and they run congress, so clearly, if pro-lifers had not tried very hard to get pro-life restrictions forced into the bill, the folks who think that killing the unborn is a form of health care would have had their way in its entirety. If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s that the “let’s shut up and be good patsies for the Dems because they’re only ones who care about people” crew would never have got any pro-life concessions at all if they’d been left to their own (lack of) way.

  • Blackadder says:

    I mentioned upon the election of Brown that it’s possible that his election would result in a more liberal bill. Without Brown, Stupak would’ve had a much better chance of getting his amendment.

    I’d considered this possibility too, but ultimately I don’t think it works. The language to be included in the Conference bill had already been worked out prior to Brown’s election, and it wasn’t the Stupak language (that’s what the whole Cornhusker Kickback thing was all about). If Brown hadn’t been elected we would have ended up with the same result w/r/t abortion.

  • Art Deco says:

    MZ, rr fancies we are responsible for this mess because we did not play the angles in some complicated way, e.g. being frightfully clever and casting a ballot for Martha Coakley. Now, I am not impressed with such a thesis or the bloke who offers it, but then I am just an ass who doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything.

    not like you were listening anyway.

    You got me there. I do not pay you much mind, for reasons you should be able to discern.

  • Jerome Kelley says:

    DarwinCatholic, I disagree with you assertion that “the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly pro-abortion at this point…”

    I’m a 30-year-old pro-life Catholic and spent the last decade voting Republican solely on the abortion issue. But I’m done with that. The Democrats of 2010 are a far cry from the party that silenced Bob Casey 18 years ago. Case in point: as Stupak took the podium last night he was greeted with loud, sustained applause from his caucus. Imagine that, 250 Dems cheering a pro-lifer as he champions the pro-life provisions of a piece of Democratic legislation.

    Frankly, the fact that you and others on this blog find yourselves in the same camp as Planned Parenthood and NOW, lambasting Obama over abortion, should give you pause.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    What a ludicrous thing to say Mr. Kelley. The Democrat party is the most pro-abortion that it has ever been. Stupak sold out the pro-life cause for a meaningless Executive Order that is unenforceable. That is why he was getting cheers from the overwhelming pro-abort Democrat caucus. Vote Democrat if you wish, but do not delude yourself that you will be voting pro-life when you do.

  • Art Deco says:

    Frankly, the fact that you and others on this blog find yourselves in the same camp as Planned Parenthood and NOW, lambasting Obama over abortion, should give you pause.

    Put that bong down, and crash.

  • RL says:

    Chuckling at Art Deco.

    If the Dems weren’t overwhelmingly pro-abortion, there wouldn’t have been any provisions in this bill for abortion from the beginning. Only a handful of Democrats in the house held out for an abortion exclusion. “Pro-life” senators were bought off with promises of pork. The leadership maintained that the bill will still allow funding of abortion and consider that a cost saving measure. Even going as far as to call this a “life-affirming” bill.

    We know to some Catholics abortion isn’t a big deal to begin with, and to most of them the end justifies the means. But the Church’s teaching on life, abortion, and justice resonates with and informs some of our consciences.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    ” as Stupak took the podium last night he was greeted with loud, sustained applause”

    Whereas just days before, he was greeted with vicious hate. For everyone from the liberal bloggers to the House Dems to suddenly love Stupak says one thing, and one thing only to me: that he agreed to a deal that will do absolutely nothing for the pro-life cause, because any bill that would, would have been shot down by the pro-abort Dems.

    The viciousness with which he then attacked pro-life Republicans during the following vote was like a victory dance with salt-coated shoes over open wounds. And all they were trying to do was get HIS language in the bill – his reason for berating them was that he had the utmost confidence in Obama’s EO.

    What a chump. What an irrational, foolish man.

  • American Knight says:

    We also know that the people begging and praying for the congressional critters to obey God and the Constitution aren’t being heard by most, both those in the Capitol and anyone outside of the four block radius.

    According to the reporting there were a 1000 ‘Tea Partiers’ and hundreds of Catholics for Health Reform making their cases.

    The sad fact is there is no such thing as a Catholic who is in favor of this ‘health care reform’. I know you misguided lefties are going break your keyboards responding, but the fact is you are wrong. You may have won this battle, but you are still wrong. Engage whatever mental gymnastics you want, you can’t contort the Catholic faith into making this OK.

    I spoke to these poor fools when I was on the hill the past two days and nights. At one point there was some confusion over the boundaries of the pro-Constitution group and the anti-life group and I ended up on the anti-life group side. I admit that after the confusion was cleared up I stayed there because I wanted the cameras to know that we are not all nuts, in favor of collectivism and that there is NO SUCH THING AS A PRO-ABORTION Christian. The camera men told me to, ‘get out of my face, I’ll film whatever I want’. I was told by Capitol police not to cause a commotion and I told them that I was just correcting a lie. The cops were very cool, they did there job well with a few minor exceptions who were chastised.

    One poor woman holding one of the professionally fabricated signs that were given to them by Demon Pelosi ‘catholics’ told me that I wasn’t allowed to be there. I responded that Catholics aren’t allowed to be for killing babies. I was met with silence. No matter how much we sin, that conscience is always there, as misguided and disfigured as it is – even Judas could have repented.

    The interesting thing was that after the ‘staged’ pro-abortion promoters were scheduled to leave – the pro-life, pro-Constitutionalists stayed and prayed and chanted and prayed. Sure I found the Our Father a little long, you know with the Novus Ordo doxology tagged on to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, but that was OK. We sang the national anthem and said the pledge of alliegence and emphasized REPUBLIC and UNDER GOD! (tangent: funny how Bible-only Chrhstians pray the Lord’s prayer differently that it says in the Bible). Some of the younger fools came to our rally carrying their professional signs and acted like fools – some of us fell for it and engaged, sadly, I wish I had recalled that Jesus didn’t say one word to Herod – but I caved into temptation and engaged.

    I am not sure that all of the ‘Catholics for Health Reform’ were actually Catholic or just very, very poorly catechized Catholics, but they are certainly wrong and misguided. They behaved like ignorant fools. It is sad that each subsequent generation since the 60s is devolving into barbarism. Having attended Mass in DC, I also noticed that the Washington DC diocese is not nearly as conservative and traditional as the western part of the Arlington diocese just across the river. That may have something to do with it – lefties and unorthodox, even downright heretics are in our Church and to be silent is to allow the Devil to sweep souls away.

    Oh – as for those racial slurs – I saw none of that – it hasn’t been proven and none of the thousands that I met behaved that way. Not to mention I met many black Americans that were with the alleged perpetrators. There were also many agent provocateurs among us to malign patriotic Americans – don’t fall for the lies. As for Barney Frank being called a fag**t, I didn’t see any of that either, despite the fact that he is a proud Sodomite. We did call him a treasonous traitor – another term that is accurate for that man.

    There were thousands standing up for life, for America and for freedom to worship and honor God. If you can’t be there in person you must pray and fast with those on the front line. This isn’t a joke. This is how a society succumbs to Jacobins, Leninists and Brownshirts. It is so sad that so many have been mentally conditioned into believing that it can’t happen here and that it isn’t happening.

    Of course, this bill is not ushering in collectivism tomorrow – we’ve been working on that for 100 years and the Enemy bides his time. The damage from this will be slow enough for most to not notice it and that will fool many into thinking their conscience is OK with it and then one day they’ll look back and wonder when it happened – when did we become Communist slaves? Or, worse, actually be happy about it and embrace it.

    Thanks for coming to DC – perhaps we bumped into each other. :)

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