This swirling of the debate drain is best avoided but today I’m going there. It’s my blog and I can Godwin if I want to.
Part 1: Jonathan Gruber was less than circumspect:
Thanks to America’s current level of journalistic excellence, Gruberisms which were recorded, clear, insulting, and obvious, stayed buried until after election day. (There is nothing to see behind the curtain, the press is unbiased!) There are many “Gruberisms” to choose from, but this is the one that seems to really grind folks’ gears:
“the stupidity of the American voter . . . was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”
This turned Gruber from a wonderkind Deomocratic technocrat to a pariah. Actually, Gruber’s comments didn’t make him a pariah at all. The thing that made the cockroaches scramble was public display. They’d all heard it, they just wanted to maintain the illusion they hadn’t.
The immediate spin were serial claims that no Democrat had ever every met Gruber, spoke to him, or stood near him on an elevator. This doesn’t fool anyone and by now the internet has dredged up plenty of videos where Democrats praise Gruber like he’s Jesus. (Note: there’s nothing like a video to make the duplicitous look like royal douchebags. I’m talking to everyone, including whack jobs like Gary Hart, Rob Ford, and Rod Blagojevich.)
Part 2: The Curmudgeon thinks everyone on both sides knew lying was afoot. Thus Gruber’s comments are to be expected:
Nothing said by Gruber surprises me. I expect the things I posit as true to gain additional verification over time. That’s how you sort reality from fantasy. I thought Obamacare was the work of asshats. Listening to Gruber I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come more asshat than that.
Everyone, on both sides of the Obamacare debate, knew the game. If you thought Obamacare was earnestly and intelligently debated on it’s merits you might be shocked. You might also have to grown up on Mars and believe in the tooth fairy. Nobody smarter than a parakeet (on either side) was fooled.
Would readers, from either party, please raise your hand if you thought Obamacare would improve the quality, quantity, and price of health care for all Americans all the time, for all maladies, while also providing it for free to everyone who needs it, lowering spending, and reducing insurance costs? It would take one hell of a magic wand to pull that off.
Suppose Obama told me he’d buy a box of Pop Tarts for all 300,000,000 Americans and this new Pop Tart initiative would somehow reduce Federal spending. I love Pot Tarts but as a sane adult I know that Pop Tarts can’t be made with negative money. If I agree to the Pop Tart initiative it’s because I’m willing to “play along” to get my hands on a subsidized Pop Tart not because I believe in magic.
I think most folks agree; Democrats maintaining an uneasy silence while Republicans are angrily smashing their keyboard on the floor. For the six of you who really bought it, shut the hell up and let the adults talk because you’re clearly a bonehead. Here’s a cookie, get lost.
Republicans knew they were being lied to. You can tell they knew it because they screamed and shouted that they were being lied to. (I find that refreshingly straightforward.) Here’s a couple links (1 and 2) of Representative Joe Wilson rudely interrupting an Obamacare speech by the President. What did Joe Wilson shout? He shouted “You Lie!” Note what Mr. Wilson didn’t shout? He didn’t shout “while your assumptions and analysis do indeed comport with empirical evidence, I have a disagreement about your goals and wish to oppose them in favor of other goals.”
That’s just one colorful instance. I can find a thousand links to a thousand Republicans in a thousand instances complaining about Obamacare lies. For now, I’ll just link to this video of Obama saying “If you like your health care plan you can keep your heath care plan” 36 times.
Republicans hated the bill with the white hot fury of a thousand suns and absolutely refused to vote for it. They’re not surprised by Gruber’s statements. Gruber’s insulting tactics were precisely what Republicans shrieked about.
Democrats, just like Republicans, also knew the “debate” was all lies. They went along because “we want it and don’t give a shit how we get it” doesn’t sell well. They reasoned that the ends justified the means and promised virtually anything to anyone. I could have wandered around in 2009 and got a solid “yes” to any of the following questions: “Will Obamacare make my car get better MPG?” “Will Obamacare make chicks dig me?” “Will Obamacare stay crunchy in milk?”
They even said silly things like “we have to pass the bill so you can see what is in it“. Imagine if you were on a used car lot pointing at one saying “I have to buy this car to see if it runs.” Sane earthlings don’t speak or think that way. It was the kind of misstep made while speaking untruths off the cuff.
Part 3: Reasonable people can disagree about what course is best and seek mutually acceptable solutions. Obamacare was precisely the opposite:
The Senate held a bitterly opposed and politically divided vote on Christmas Eve. (Trivia alert: How many Senate votes have been held on Christmas Eve in the last 118 years? Answer: one.) Out of 39 Republicans, all 39 voted no on H.R. 3590.
The House voted three months later on H.R. 3590. Out of 178 Republicans, all 178 voted no.
Wise decisions never never never never come with 100% opposition of an entire party. It just doesn’t work that way. “In the last 100 years, no major lasting legislation has passed over 100 percent opposition from the other party. Until Obamacare.”
When you’re doing a sound and honorable thing you don’t play that way. You don’t hold the only Christmas Eve vote in over a century, you don’t steam roll ahead when every single opposition party member votes against you while howling in fury, and you don’t lie to get there. Wise governance means you look at that cliff and stay the hell away from it. That’s how I know both parties were well aware of everything Gruber said. Sure, Gruber opened his yap when a smarter guy would be home counting the
$400,000 $6,000,000 he “earned” but nobody who got to vote on the matter was “fooled”.
Now to the grand finale: The Curmudgeon pulls a Godwin.
The Democrats lied and knew it. The Republicans were lied to and knew it. Americans who were opposed said “it’s a lie” and screamed about it. Americans who were in favor knew it was a lie but pretended to believe them because they wanted free stuff.
There’s a word for untruths used to promote a political cause. That word is propaganda. I’m not exaggerating or twisting definitions. Go ahead and look it up.
It struck me that I’d heard the correlation between “stupidity” and “propaganda” long before Gruber stuck his foot in his mouth. Where had I heard it before? Oh yeah, from the writings of a German fellow back in the 1940’s:
“All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to perception of the least intelligent of those to whom it intends to direct itself. – Adolf Hitler”
I’m not saying that Gruber said anything we didn’t already know. I’m not saying Obamacare was caused by Nazis. I’m not even saying the Republicans were right and the Democrats were wrong. What I am saying is this:
“Gruber accurately described tactics, the tactics were propaganda, and propaganda is wrong. Propaganda was wrong when Hitler used it. Propaganda is wrong when Obamacare relied on it. It’ll be wrong the next time it’s used in Washington. It is always wrong.”
Having “self Godwined”… I bow out. You may throw rocks at me in the comments.
P.S. I think it was a Pyrrhic Victory. Nancy Pelosi got a “victory lap” and a politically connected minority consolidated more power, but at what long term cost to their own goals? Obama started with a solid win and party control of both bodies of Congress. Refusing to play the proper role of an American President he quickly inflicted the two most divisive laws in the last century and now he’s an unpopular lame duck leading a battered and untrusted party. Was their “big fucking deal” worth the 2010 “shellacking”? Was it worth the epic drubbing of 2014? Was it wise to behave badly and stack closets full of skeletons to ooze out in dribs and drabs from now ’till the cows come home? Regardless of how 2016 plays out, nobody will look back on Obamacare’s passing as wise governance. Obamacare is a Pyrrhic Victory.