Jonah Goldberg

The bill does have its supporters: inside-the-Beltway pundits and Capitol Hill deal-makers, the pharmaceutical industry and the supposedly rapacious insurance companies (don't take my word for it, just ask Howard Dean -- or your stockbroker).

Under the Clintonian paradigm of governance, Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson's parlaying of his pro-life objections to the Senate bill into a windfall for his state and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' leveraging of his socialist principles for billions in special deals would be dramatic twists in a conventional story of LBJ-style arm-twisting.

But Clintonian means cannot further Obamaian ends. For the last year, Obama's party has made a mockery of everything Obama was supposed to represent. The tone has gotten worse as his communications staff spent the year demonizing Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called opponents of their health proposals "un-American." Over the weekend, Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse insisted that Senate opposition is being driven in part by "Aryan support groups."

Everywhere you look, the sizzle doesn't match the steak. He won the Nobel Peace Prize as he (rightly) sent even more men off to war. He promised that the oceans would stop rising but delivered a nonbinding something-or-other in Copenhagen.

In his special health care address to Congress in September, he said, "I am not the first president to take up (the cause of health care reform), but I am determined to be the last." Those were just words, and everyone, including Obama, knew it. Indeed, the only grounds for supporting the bill, according to progressives, is that it is a "first step" or a "starter house" that they'll build on for years, even generations, to come. In other words, the health care debate is not only not going to end, it's going to get uglier for as far as the eye can see.

But here's the point: Obama's rhetorical audacity breeds cynicism, because utopianism always comes up short. Obama has many victories ahead of him, but his cause is already lost.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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