During the Obama years, a potent mythology has taken root in Democratic circles. In this narrative, Democrats are victims, martyrs even, whereas Republicans are wily tricksters.
Last year, there was a hyped-up fable about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Barack Obama told "60 Minutes," "When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, 'My No. 1 priority is making sure President Obama's a one-term president.'" Sen. Dianne Feinstein even told the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board she heard McConnell speaking to that effect on the Senate's opening day.
The thing is that the quote in question first appeared nearly two years later -- in an October 2010 interview with the National Journal's Major Garrett.
The latest iteration of Democrats-on-the-cross works like this: Obamacare hasn't delivered the big savings promised by the president -- $2,500 annually for the average family -- because Democrats ditched the single-payer model to mollify Republicans. In the Los Angeles Times, Harvard professor Jane Mansbridge writes, "The Democratic Party reluctantly adopted RomneyCare, a.k.a. Obamacare, to get Republican approval." What's more, House Republicans "coerced the Democrats into adopting a Republican health insurance reform plan."
A reader emails me, "The Republicans who hate Obama would not permit the creation of a decent single payer plan which would allow private insurance carriers to participate on a competitive uniform benefit program." Another insists, "We wanted single payer! The GOP did not -- that was the compromise, and it was one of many from this president."
Really? The Affordable Care Act did not win a single Republican vote on the House or Senate floor. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi abandoned single-payer to win GOP votes, they are the most incompetent negotiators in history.
Former Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, voted for the Obama stimulus package and a measure to end "don't ask, don't tell." In her book, "Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress," Snowe recalls how 40 House Republicans voted with 249 Democrats to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, only to watch Democrats unveil a stimulus package with no GOP input a week later.
There was little spirit of bipartisanship when Pelosi crowed: "Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election."