It's about ego, stupid
"Given that the polls are showing that a majority of Americans don't want this reform to occur, why are the Democrats plowing forward with it knowing that the ire of the nation will likely be taken out on them in the November midterms?"
Byron York channels my continued answer to these friends of mine that I've been saying for the last six months. In short, it's all about ego, folks:
In the entire health care debate, among all the competing lawmakers, politicians, experts and pundits, there's just one person who has seen things from both sides of the political aisle. That is Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama, who was elected as a Democrat in 2008 and was part of the House Democratic caucus until last Dec. 22, when he switched sides to become a Republican. (Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter doesn't count, because he switched parties in April 2009, before the current health care debate got underway.)
Given Griffith's unique perspective -- he is also a doctor, with 30 years' experience as an oncologist -- perhaps he has some insight into why the White House and his former Democratic allies in Congress continue to press forward on a national health care bill despite widespread public opposition.
It's gotten personal, Griffith says. "You have personalities who have bet the farm, bet their reputations, on shoving a health care bill through the Congress. It's no longer about health care reform. It's all about ego now. The president's ego. Nancy Pelosi's ego. This is about personalities, saving face, and it has very little to do with what's good for the American people."
Conflicts driven by personal feelings can lead to self-destructive outcomes. Ask Griffith whether Speaker Pelosi, his old leader, would accept losing Democratic control of the House as the price for passing the health care bill, and he answers quickly. "Oh yeah. This is a trophy for the speaker, it's a trophy for several committee chairs, and it's a trophy for the president." It does not seem to matter that if Democrats lose the House, the speaker will no longer be speaker, the chairmen will no longer be chairmen, and the president will be significantly weakened.
Now a sensible person would step back, look at the Democrat's logic (yes, I know, it's an oxymoron) and shake their head. After all, only an idiot would commit political suicide by ramming through a controversial piece of legislation that the electorate doesn't want. But Rep. Griffith is quite correct. This is an ego trip -- a power trip -- for his colleagues in the Congress. If they can push this through, it'll be as much a trophy for them as Social Security was for FDR, as the expansion of federal entitlement programs was for LBJ, as the creation of the Department of Education was for President Carter.
In short, Democrats are going to ram this down our throat. We're going to eat it and like it because they think they know better. Then they will sit back, thump their chests, pat themselves on the back, and crow about how they did something to "save health care in America." It's gone beyond ego and is treading dangerously close to unhinged narcissism. Mr. York continues:
As Griffith sees his former colleagues, Democratic leaders have become so consumed with the idea of achieving the historical goal of a national health care system that they are able to explain away the scores of opinion polls over the last six months that show people solidly opposed to the Democratic proposal.
The polls are wrong, they say. Or the polls are contradictory. Or the polls actually show that people love the health care plan. And even if the polls are right, and people hate the plan, real leaders don't govern by following the polls. So just pass the bill.
That's easy for Democrats like Pelosi, who occupy safe seats. Not so for dozens of moderate House Democrats whose votes are required for passage, but who face likely defeat for it. "I don't think there are that many moderate or conservative Democrats who want to be sacrificial representatives," says Griffith.
Just for the record, the RealClearPolitics average of polls on the Democratic health care plan shows 51 percent opposed and 40 percent in favor. A similar compilation of surveys by Pollster.com shows the gap at 51 percent to 43 percent. There have been more opponents than supporters of the plan since last July, when Democrats first began to unveil concrete health care proposals.
Can Democrats really ignore the polls all the way to the end? Yes, but it gets a little harder with each passing day. George W. Bush couldn't ignore public opinion when he wanted to remake Social Security and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Faced with broad opposition, Bush ultimately gave up.
And now Democratic leaders are showing signs of weakness. Why would they suddenly express interest, even feigned interest, in Republican ideas they derided for months? Why would they invite GOP lawmakers to a high-profile discussion of health care? Because they don't have the votes to pass the bill. "If they had the votes, we wouldn't have had the summit," said Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn on CBS Sunday.
I'll agree with Rep. Blackburn on the face of her statement. No, the Democrats don't have the votes right now. The Stupak coalition is standing firm, right now, on being opposed to the passage of this bill. That coalition supposedly has approximately twenty moderate, Blue Dog Democrats that have said they won't budge on their opposition to the Senate's bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid has urged the House pass as soon as possible. (The plan is that the Senate will pass the bill, via reconciliation, i.e., a simple majority vote, and then throw it to the House to be passed.)
But there is something else that's bugging the Hell out of Democrats. They don't have ANY bipartisan support on this bill. That means if they pass it, they own it. With so many people in America opposed to this bill Democrats stand a good chance of not only losing their majorities now (and possibly for the foreseeable future), but they will consign Barry to one term only. People in 2012 simply won't tolerate a president who has signed legislation that has basically federalized two American car companies, is set to federalize one-sixth of the nations economy, has run deficits up to the point where people are worried about inflation setting in, and has stepped in to tell corporations what they can pay their top executives.
Some people think Democrats are just too stupid, and that stupidity has grown exponentially with their overwhelming political clout. No. while they're not exactly the brightest bulbs in the box, this particular issue comes right down to a bunch of narcissistic, egotistical, incompetent people that don't really care what their nation thinks of them because they believe they know better, and we're the stupid ones on this issue.