BY KENNY BELFORD
The frustration that I feel over the failure to pass meaningful health care reform with a public option centers on a failure of leadership from the elected Democrats in Washington.
In Congress there are 258 members that are Democrats, 177 that are Republicans, and no Independents. In the Senate there are 58 Democrats, 40 Republicans, and 2 Independents. Democrats hold a majority in both houses, plus our president is a Democrat.
Yet we lost, and the Republicans, the minority Republicans, won.
All summer Democrats allowed Republicans to shape the debate on health care reform. They lied, then lied about their lies. They recruited ignorant, uninformed tinfoil hat wearers to disrupt Town Hall meetings. We played nice.
It became extremely obvious that there was going to be zero cooperation from Republicans on this topic. The head of their party even circulated a memo touting the merits of opposing all aspects of health care reform to make the president look bad.
The president, armed with the knowledge that Republicans would not support any aspect of this issue kept making concessions to the Republicans, and gained no support from them.
That’s a baffling strategy.
In the Senate, Joe Lieberman, former Democratic vice presidential and presidential candidate, basked in the limelight of being a deal killer on health care reform. Although he campaigned against the Democratic candidate for president, and actually spoke at the Republican Convention, he was allowed to keep his coveted committee chairmanship.
We played nice. He spit on our food.
Among those that actually supported health care reform, there was a wide consensus that a public option was an essential ingredient. Yet it appears that to appease the minority, that will vote no anyway, and a traitor like Joe Lieberman, that’s now vanished. We conceded points to the minority and they still oppose it. We rewarded a traitor with appeasements, and he still gets to keep his committee chairmanship.
This was the single best time since Franklin Roosevelt was in office to pass this measure with a bill that actually was in the best interest of Americans, and we gave it away.
We didn’t get whipped, we surrendered.
We surrendered to a minority that still opposes any reform bill. In the Senate, Harry Reid will no doubt try to spin this as some kind of victory. It’s not. Reid is the Don Knotts of Senate leadership. He’s a wuss, a weakling, a coward afraid to fight for what’s right. No doubt he’ll also retain his “leadership” role. Pitiful.
We just went through a Wrestlemania and watched Hulk Hogan get his ass whupped by Mickey The Midget.
Then there’s the president. Republicans called him a socialist. He smiled back at them. They called him a Nazi, he smiled. On the floor of Congress, in a prime time speech they called him a liar. He said, No, I’m not. But he did make concessions to them. They questioned his legitimacy as a U.S. citizen. He conceded points to a minority with no clout, except name-calling and lies. He conceded points, they continued to smear him, lie about him and indicate they’ll vote no. He made more concessions, they continued to indicate they’ll vote no. This process continued for months and we wound up with this dead fish of a health reform bill, and Republicans will still vote no.
That logic escapes me. It infuriates me. There was a method in the Senate, used by the Republicans during George W. Bush’s terms, to pass legislation that didn’t require a 60-vote margin. They weren’t afraid to use it. We were. So on the most important piece of legislation to the American people, a legitimate chance to pass a core issue that defines our party, a measure we’ve wanted passed for over half a century, flawed reasoning and cowardice won the day, and we served up a win to the minority at the expense of our citizens, our leaders and our party.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer