“In the time of Joseph McCarthyism, celebrated in the Pogo strip by a character named Simple J. Malarkey, I attempted to explain each individual is wholly involved in the democratic process, work at it or no. The results of the process fall on the head of the public and he who is recalcitrant or procrastinates in
“In the time of Joseph McCarthyism, celebrated in the Pogo strip by a character named Simple J. Malarkey, I attempted to explain each individual is wholly involved in the democratic process, work at it or no. The results of the process fall on the head of the public and he who is recalcitrant or procrastinates in raising his voice can blame no one but himself.”[i]
Walt Kelly, Pogo Papers, 1952
Healthcare reform was inevitable because the necessity for change was greater than the fear of change. The insurance industry has simply jerked too many Americans around too many times and done nothing about the cries for relief other than raise rates and lower coverage.
In the March 11 report I wrote, “Obama is smart enough to come out of the healthcare reform debate with a win. He has to. His entire agenda is at stake. He will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to declare a victory.” Well, he gave up the public option and agreed to a pro-life presidential decree. He won.
I also wrote in March that by the time the May primaries roll around in North Carolina, the healthcare debate will be old news. “Obama will be directing his energies to the other problematic issues for Democrats by then: the economy, jobs, and big government spending. There will be an uptick in the job approval numbers for the President and the Congress, and most incumbents will win their primaries.”
I’m sticking with that forecast, and adding this one: Financial regulatory reform is inevitable because the need is greater than the fear of change. The banking industry and Wall Street investment houses have simply jerked too many Americans around too many times and done nothing about the cries for relief other than raise fees and lower services.
If Republicans stand with Wall Street in the upcoming financial reform debate, they will wind up on the losing end of that legislation as well.
Cut Your Losses, Celebrate Your Wins, and Refocus on Populist Priorities
Hanging onto healthcare is a waste of time because it is not an imminent threat to anyone between now and Election Day. Democrats were smart enough to frontload the bill with publicly popular features such as ending the pre-existing conditions exclusion for children and extending the age that parents can keep their kids on the family’s policy.
It’s time for conservatives to take credit for the positive accomplishments in Washington to date, like no card check bill, like healthcare reform without a public option, like a pro-life decree from the White House, like a commander-in-chief who has had a mountain top conversion experience on Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, and who is now singing “drill baby drill” like Luciano Pavarotti.
Conservatives need to redirect their attention to a populist appeal on issues like jobs, the economy, fear of the consequences of national debt, and corruption on Wall Street and Jones Street. If you want to vent your anger against the system and help reestablish the financial integrity of the country at the same time, why don’t you join any and all forces without regard to race, party, religion, gender, ethnicity or political ideology and take a stand to clean up, lock up and regulate the most amoral, criminal, incompetent, low-life group of professionals in America in this decade: Wall Street investment bankers.
Wall Street is where you need to take your Tea Party if you want the highest return on your political investment.
Was that The-Not-Very-Reverend Jeremiah Wright at the Healthcare Reform Rally?
There was no place at a healthcare reform rally for loaded pistols and rebel flags like we saw the weekend of the vote in Washington D.C., nor is there any place in a civil society for telephone voicemail messages like, “I hope you die,” or vandalism or hate-filled email messages.
In case some of you can’t quite figure out what that kind of rhetoric sounds like to most Americans, take a minute to recall some of the things said by The Not-Very-Reverend Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential race. Recall those images of his uncivil demeanor behind the pulpit and his angry, maniacal diatribes. Recall the sounds of his congregation as they were incited into boisterous shouts of support. That’s what the healthcare reform rally sounded like.
The biggest challenge facing Republicans in 2010 is how to keep from reminding voters why they didn’t like Republicans in 2006 and 2008.
It’s Jobs, National and State Debt, and Fundraising!
Concerns about the economy and job security and the financial stability of our state and nation are the issues driving voters, especially independents, away from the Democrats. Last Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that Pres. Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget would generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, and raise the federal debt to 90% of the nation’s GDP by 2020 … up from 40% at the end of fiscal 2008.[ii]
The CBO also reported that the federal public debt, which was $6.3 trillion when Mr. Obama entered office, totals $8.2 trillion today, and is headed toward $20.3 trillion by 2020.
According to a Fox news poll released last week, most Americans believe that a national economic collapse is possible, including Democrats (72%), Republicans (84%) and Independents (80%). The same poll showed that by a 3-to1 margin, Americans believe that the national debt is a greater potential threat to the country’s future than terrorism.[iii]
It has been said that timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. That is certainly true when it comes to winning campaigns. There’s no doubt in my mind that former Gov. Jim Holshouser would not have defeated Democratic gubernatorial nominee Skipper Bowles in 1972 were it not for the Nixon landslide election. Former Gov. Jim Hunt would likely have defeated US Sen. Jesse Helms in the 1984 epic battle were it not for the Reagan landslide. And certainly, few would doubt that Republican nominee Pat McCrory would be in the governor’s mansion today were it not for Obama’s voter registration and turnout operation in our state.
So, whose time is it? Most pols agree that it’s the Republicans time. Everyone I have talked to in preparation for this report, including veteran capitol press corps members and leading Democrat consultants, have drawn the same conclusion about this election year: “It’s the Republicans to lose.” Then they invariably add, “and they are very capable of losing it.”
That sentiment clearly suggests that even though everyone sees the potential for Republicans to erase many of the great gains made by the Democrats in 2008, and take control of at least one house in the state legislature, there is not a whole lot of confidence that they will actually pull it off. Republicans in North Carolina have a long history getting off track on issues like healthcare, even though every poll says that voters are primarily concerned about the economy, job security and the financial stability of our state and nation. And then there is the matter of the hard work of fundraising, a responsibility for which most Republicans are shamefully negligent.
Walt Kelly, creator of the Pogo comic strip, wrote in 1952, “In the time of Joseph McCarthyism, celebrated in the Pogo strip by a character named Simple J. Malarkey, I attempted to explain each individual is wholly involved in the democratic process, work at it or no. The results of the process fall on the head of the public and he who is recalcitrant or procrastinates in raising his voice can blame no one but himself.” Pogo was a bit more concise when he said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
[i] The Best of Pogo, Published by Simon and Schuster, 1982
[ii] The Washington Times, March 26, 2010, CBO report: Debt will rise to 90% of GDP
[iii] FOXNews.com, March 23, 2010, Fox News Poll: 79% Say U.S. Economy Could Collapse