Friday, July 24, 2009

What's coming -- and why

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
-- Proverbs 16:18

Here's to hoping that South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint will someday regret his words that President Obama's health-care bill now working through Congress will become "his Waterloo." Because fighting it may actually become the beginning of the beginning of the end of the conservative movement to which he subscribes.

Earlier this week I posted on Facebook that I was considering praying that the bill would pass over the objections of certain key Republicans, and a number of people asked me, in essence, "Have you actually read it?" Well, for the record, no, I haven't. Because that's not the point.

The issue is that Obama is actually trying to do something positive about the health-care mess in this country and, in response, his detractors are trying to stop him cold. Deep down, they don't want it fixed except on their terms -- which, in practice, means probably not at all -- because if it is they'll have egg on their face. Again.

Just like during the Bill Clinton years, when they continually went up against him -- and ended up losing most of the time.

The conservative movement that found its "groove," if you will, in the 1960s has always -- always -- been one of opposition; you could argue that it wouldn't even exist without an enemy to conquer. That's an understandable approach because it's really easy to mobilize against some bogeyman; that said, consistently doing so stems from a narcissistic worldview where everyone is either "with us or against us." Such an attitude is simply emotionally and spiritually unhealthy -- to say the least. Trouble is, the heart of politics is compromise for the greater good, which to them is anathema.

Let's recap what happened during the Clinton years. During the 1992 campaign some conservative activists went to Federal court in Arkansas to have Clinton taken off the ballot, and just weeks after the election bumper stickers started popping up saying, "Don't blame me -- I voted for [George H.W.] Bush." He got a targeted tax increase through in 1994, spawning the reactionary "Contract With America" -- but the plan actually worked, the economy took off and we eventually saw a budget surplus. On the evening of the 1996 election, other conservative activists plotted to have Clinton impeached and, of course, succeeded two years later (he was acquitted, however, because his lawyer shot holes in the prosecution's flimsy case).

Then again, contrast that with the record of George W. Bush. He cut taxes for the wealthiest, which had no effect overall for everyone else. He started a war in Iraq which was designed to be little more than a commando raid (read: On the cheap) to settle a score with Saddam Hussein, and when more and more troops were needed he simply refused to raise taxes or find other sources of revenue to pay for it. Add the debacle that was the response to Hurricane Katrina and the lobbying scandal and you have a discredited ideology punctuated with the economic downturn just after presidential candidate John McCain insisted, "The fundamentals of our economy remain strong."

But the conservatives decided to ignore all these realities because it's easier to play "King of the Hill" and sabotage an opponent's plans rather than come up with better ideas of their own. How sinister -- that reminds me of the maxim "If I can't have you, no one will."

That's the backdrop for the fight going on in Congress right now -- it's the same old, same old -- and for that reason the conservatives, and thus the Republican Party, cannot but eventually fail. In fact, I'm making a bold prediction: Should Obama run for reelection in 2012 we could see a landslide of Johnson/Goldwater proportions no matter who runs on the GOP side. (Which would be a shame -- NOT! -- as there's already a Facebook page, "Nobama in '12.")

I'm reminded of the scene from "Rocky III" where Clubber Lang, who knocked out Rocky in their first bout, went on TV and boasted about how he would abuse him during the rematch. Apollo Creed, who would train Rocky for that second bout, responded quietly, "Yeah, keep talking, pal ... " DeMint and his cronies may win this battle, but because they're so full of themselves they don't realize that they're already well on their way to losing the war -- not to mention their minds.

No comments: