Brian Birdnow
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Last week Dana Milbank, the noted Washington Post commentator, and Republican hater, worked himself into a fine froth over the public battles concerning the Affordable Care Act, also known commonly as Obamacare. Milbank has never met a Republican he actually respected, save for the man-crush he recently developed on John McCain, and he has now taken to referring to the GOP as “The Party without a brain.” We don’t know whether Milbank is employing a historical reference in this case. Back in 1866, John Stuart Mill, the famed libertarian philosopher, referred to the Tory (Conservative) Party in Britain as “The Stupid Party.” Milbank might be consciously channeling Mill, or he might simply be echoing the current liberal line of attack as Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman, and Eugene Robinson have all parroted this narrative over the last few weeks.

In any event, Milbank was crowing over the clear decision victory he claims Kathleen Sebelius won in her oft-delayed showdown with the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Wednesday, October 30th. As Milbank tells it, Sebelius was disarming in her candor and her open willingness to accept the blame for the Obamacare debut disaster. Milbank, to his credit, does admit the obvious that the Obamacare rollout has been the biggest mistake since the Edsel, but no matter. He lauds Ms. Sebelius for accepting full responsibility for the comically bad beginning, and for resisting the urge to pass this hot potato back to her boss, President Obama. He praised the Secretary for her poise and composure and celebrated her contumacious attitude when she insisted that she would not resign, would not fire any incompetent subordinates, she would not supply the investigative committee any Obamacare enrollment numbers, and would not comment on Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s declaration that Obamacare had failed. According to Dana Milbank, the good Secretary clearly won the opening round.

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Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.