Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, March 21, 2010 11:14 pm

Republicans and Waterloo

Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted a while back that the health-care vote would be President Obama’s Waterloo. Uh, not so much, says fellow Republican David Frum.

Now, I’m not sure I buy everything Frum’s selling here, just as I don’t buy the insane notion that passing this bill will guarantee Democratic hegemony for a generation the way the New Deal did. But here’s one part with which I wholeheartedly agree:

I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished.

The Republican Party can win elections, but at the end of the day it has to govern, too. And the people with the most influence and sway over voters in the party right now aren’t the least bit interested in governing, or anything else that smacks of being accountable for their statements and actions.



  1. To a certain extent you’re right. The Republican Party and the GOP have become closer to the Democrats than they have been in the past. Why do you think that Ronald Reagan stated that he didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democratic Party left hIm. So I can safely say that I have not left the GOP, the GOP has left me as a Conservative.

    But based on the governing principle of being conservative is that there is a sense of doing what is right by both self interest and your neighbor’s interest. In his book “Think and Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill said it best regarding business, “I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice, therefore, I will engage in no transaction that does not BENEFIT ALL WHO IT AFFECTS (emphasis mine). A win/win situation is for consumer and business, business and government, and government and consumer, not a win/lose for anyone, that’s the way laws are suppose to be written.

    The Healthcare bill just passed was partisan all the way, not one Republican voted for it. That is a win/lose situation for the Democrats and that’s not what Obama campaigned for as a centrist, he’s become a radical leftist that even conservative Democrats are leaving his base because of his “policies.”

    Throwing sophomoric stones at Rush is one thing, but to hammer the GOP for their lack of governing, then I’d somewhat agree. To restate, the GOP has left me.

    And before you skewer me, read the transcripts of this (especially toward the end) and see if there is not a good way of getting both the right and the left to do better at governing. “A Dangerous Business” PBS:

    Accountability is best when transparency is only game in town.

    Comment by Kevin Cullis — Monday, March 22, 2010 9:10 am @ 9:10 am

  2. Kevin, I’m not gonna skewer you, but I will say I think you missed my point.

    I’m not trying to make any points here about Republicans vs. Democrats. I’m saying I agree with Frum that right-wing entertainers such as Rush, Hannity, etc., profit from ineffective government no matter who’s governing or what their agenda is, and that it is dangerous to the country for people who will profit from failed government to influence large numbers of voters.

    Even when Bush was in power and I disagreed with almost everything he did, I didn’t want government to fail. I wanted it to work — which is to say, I wanted Bush et al. held accountable and punished for their crimes.

    I’m not hammering the GOP for inability to govern (at least not in this post). I’m saying that the positions and power of Rush, in particular, will make it very difficult for them to govern the next time it’s their turn. I’m not throwing a sophomoric stone at Rush. I’m saying that it’s in his best interest, in terms of ratings, for government to fail no matter who is in charge, which wouldn’t matter except that he exerts a great deal of influence over the GOP base. He’s essentially creating a voting block that wants government to fail no matter who controls it or what their agenda is. That’s very dangerous to the long-term viability of this country as a stable constitutional republic.

    As for the health-care bill, the striking thing is not that no Republicans voted for it, but that no Republicans voted for it despite the fact that it included pretty much every major Republican proposal of the past 20 years, from the GOP’s 1993-94 response to ClintonCare to Mitt Romney’s Mass. plan. The Republicans simply couldn’t take yes for an answer.

    The reason for that is that they decided as a group a while back that they were going to campaign against this thing in November. Ironically, I think that plan would’ve worked better if they’d defeated the bill, because then they could claim that Democrats can’t govern. It may still work well for them. But that’s a question of winning elections, not of addressing the huge problems of the health-care status quo.

    And that’s the GOP’s ultimate weakness on this issue. We’ve known for decades that our health-care system is not cost-effective, delivers inferior care in many respects and is going to bankrupt us. The Republicans have fought Democratic efforts to change this, which is fine as long as they have an alternative plan. But they haven’t been interested in fixing the problems, they’ve been interested only in stopping Democrats from fixing the problems.

    Comment by Lex — Monday, March 22, 2010 9:35 am @ 9:35 am

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