Posted by Damozel | The House has passed yet another version of the children's health bill, "after hours of partisan warfare." (Washington Post) Sadly, the Democrats still haven't been able to draw in enough Republicans to override the promised veto by the always consistent President Bush. (Washington Post) And, as always, W is the living proof that Emerson was right: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. On the other hand, he is reliable. You always know where he is going to plant his tattered, shrunken, faded little "red states only" version of the American flag.
Is Pelosi---every Democrat's domineering, know-it-all big sister---also partly to blame? I've no idea. When the Republicans suggested that perhaps the vote could be referred while nine House members were touring California's disaster zone, she pushed the vote forward with a mean little gibe. She had "no choice," she seemed to think, except to push forward so the Senate would have the chance to send the measure to Bush next (Washington Post) ""If Republicans believe in SCHIP as they say they do . . . then they won't be looking for an excuse to vote against the bill," Pelosi said," throwing down her increasingly tattered little "blue states only" gauntlet (Washington Post) while moderate Dems like me who want the bill and don't care about scoring off Republicans screamed in distress. (Washington Post)
Bipartisan is always better than partisan, since bipartisan has a better chance of sticking if it does pass. I am so sick of Congressional pissing contests, people. If the public's interests, including that part consisting of Democratic voters, are thereby served I just don't see it. Weren't Pelosi's Dems talking just the other day about a massive P.R. campaign to show that the Democrats really are busy doing the people's---or at least their constituents'---work? Screw the party; what about us? Did House Dems just cut off our nose to spite our face?
WaPo says that the push has "infuriated even her closest Republican allies." (Washington Post)
"I used to think they cared about the policy. Now I think they care more about the politics," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who had been working for the bill and personally appealed to Pelosi for a delay. "Everything from baptisms to bar mitzvahs, we've put off votes for here. But they won't do it for the people of California." (Washington Post
Okay, that's the sort of rhetoric I hate most. The "people of California" who are dealing with the current catastrophe probably aren't going to be offended that a new version of S-CHIP has passed. But the rest has a certain ring of authenticity. Were the Republicans really just "making excuses" as Pelosi charged?
Possibly. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the Dems had in fact made a number of changes to the bill that the Republicans were demanding, but Republican leaders "insisted" that the changes were still insufficient. They used various parliamentary maneuvers to try to prevent or derail the vote.
But even if the Republicans are dragging their feet, isn't it better to concede on the one point of delaying the vote in order to call their bluff? Because this also seems to have the hallmark on it:
Republican supporters of the insurance bill feared that the day's events had so poisoned the atmosphere they would never persuade the dozen or so Republicans they need to override a Bush veto.
"Part of me thinks this is just a terrible mistake," said Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), another supporter. "It's either a terrible mistake or an intentional partisan maneuver. Either way, they're not going to get any more votes." (Washington Post)
So this was, what, a gesture of some kind? But what kind and for whose purposes? Republicans say that Democrats wanted a quick vote because they want to have another go at "swing district Republicans." (Washington Post) The bill's supporters have run $1.5 million in ads against 20 "vulnerable" Republicans and they were all set to run another round early next week (Washington Post) I suppose they see it as killing two birds with one stone: health care for children and a transparent partisan advantage?
Do they really think Americans, including Democrats like me who want health care for all, can't see through all this? Do they not realize that Democrats like me will wonder why House Dems couldn't---as a courtesy to Republicans and as a gesture to California---wait one more weekend to push through this longed-for measure? Do they really think this is the way to win the hearts and minds of independents or of those alienated Republicans whom we keep hearing about? Do they really think our priorities don't temporarily shift during a disaster such as California's and that we'll applaud a transparent partisan mood? Do they REALLY not see how this sort of move is helping to drive those low poll numbers they're all obsessing over?
I think that's what they think, and that it's the same thing Congressional Republicans think: that most voters are stupid, and that the ones who aren't have no choice but to support them. But there's a definite connection between this sort of thinking on the part of party leaders and those low poll numbers. Perhaps after all it's the party leaders now in Congress who are stupid and not the public?
Maybe, after all, that's where we need to start making changes---on both sides of the aisle. I don't have much of a choice except to go on voting Democratic, but there are Democrats and Democrats and I think the ones in Congress sometimes forget this.
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