Robert Reich today succinctly lays out the tape playing in Republican heads, and why they’re so wound up to try and block healthcare insurance reform:
Republicans smell 1994 all over again. That’s when they defeated Clinton’s healthcare plan—and in doing so convinced large numbers of Americans that Clinton and the Democrats couldn’t be trusted. This enabled the Republicans to retake control of Congress. From then on, they blocked Clinton’s agenda.
But this isn’t 1994, is it? I think that what we’re actually hearing among Republicans is the “broken wheel screeches loudest” phenomenon. Healthcare is where Republicans, not Democrats, are about to meet their Waterloo, and the hysterical noises that Republicans are making about healthcare insurance reform are a symptom of their own fast approaching defeat and political marginalization. President Barack Obama is going to get a halfway decent health insurance reform bill to sign, and it’s going to be enough for him to declare victory in the health insurance reform battle, and after it passes it will (like Medicare) be generally popular, especially over time. And since we’re at the tail end of a recession, and not at its beginning, by this time next year Americans are going to be feeling pretty good about the direction of the country, and are unlikely to reward Republicans at the polls in November, 2010.
And remember the lather that Republicans had worked themselves into on the eve of Barack Obama’s election? A lot of noise and fist pounding and hysteria, but they lost didn’t they? That’s what I think we’re seeing today. The noise and anger is a symptom of Republican frustration, not immanent victory over the Democrats with regard to health insurance reform. Nor does all the seemingly populist shouting foreshadow electoral success for Republicans in 2010. It’s just the static of a very noisy and outraged minority. But the silent majority in 2009 is not the silent majority of 1968, nor of 1988, nor of 1994. Barack Obama’s election demonstrates that.
It’s a new day.