Dereliction of Duty

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 11, 2010 10:22 PM
How many flavors of crazy is it for President Obama and Democrat leaders to continue the forced march toward a vote on a health care bill despised by the majority of Americans?  The New York Times lays out what's happening:

Leaving a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, lawmakers said they had received few details about what would be in the [health care] legislation, on which they may be asked to vote in the next week or two.

Got that?  This is legislation that would remake fully 1/6 of the US economy, and the House members who are being pushed to vote on it aren't even sure about what's in its final version.  How, under any circumstances, can voting in favor of this -- given the rush, the uncertainty about the bill's contents, not to mention its effects (and including the widespread, fierce opposition to it) -- be anything other than a dereliction of duty?

Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen warn that passing the legislation will be a political disaster for the Democrats.  Frankly, the point is so obvious that it's frightening that it needs to be made.

But the bigger problem now, for Democrats, is that their interests and President Obama's diverge.  Many Blue Dogs can save themselves (and their party) if they take a principled stand against ObamaCare.  But the President needs this victory -- in a sense, just to stay in the game.  Without it, he's revealed as politically impotent.  With it, he can at least comfort himself with his "historic" expansion of the welfare state.

Overall, though, the President's in trouble either way this goes.  Even if he wins, he's paid a heavy price.  First, he's lost the trust of the American people by his willingness to say anythign to get the bill passed; second, he's shown himself willing to ignore the expressed wishes of those he governs; and third, he's revealed himself as arrogant enough to believe that opponents are too stupid to understand what's in the bill -- but once ObamaCare is foisted upon them by the "platonic guardians" in The White House and on Capitol Hill, the ignorant rubes will love it.

A President can come back from political defeat.  Recovering after losing the trust of the people is much more difficult.