Worrying about Obamacare

Today’s Washington Examiner editorial likens the Democrats’ final assault on the health care system to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg: “a horrendous, bloody carnage that could have been avoided, had not their commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee, been so determined to do it his way — a massed frontal assault against a nearly impregnable position.”
Is the Republicans’ position “nearly impregnable”? It has public opinion on its side. Opposition to Obamacare has solidified and increased since the Democrats have put their bills on the table and Obama has advocated their adoption. That should count for something in a democratic republic.
“In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything,” Lincoln argued in his debate with Douglas at Ottawa. “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” (Lincoln concluded: “Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”)
Can Democrats muster the votes to ram the Senate Obamacare bill through the House in the face of public opposition to the bill? Timothy Noah counts the Democratic noses in the House and expresses skepticism that the votes are there to pass it.
I wonder. With the Democrats’ substantial House majority, it’s hard to believe that Nancy Pelosi won’t be able to round up the necessary votes by hook or by crook. With reconciliation in play, the Democrats’ problems in the Senate may be less formidable than in the House.
Those of us who staunchly oppose Obamacare have to hang our hopes on the strength and character of Democrats such as Bart Stupak. My rule of thumb is that if you have to count on a Democrat to come through under difficult circumstances, you’re in trouble.
And to give voice to my fears, here comes the Hill reporting the view of Stupak himself: “Stupak said he still suspected…that Democrats wouldn’t allow their health reform efforts, one of their top domestic priorities, to go down over concerns on abortion.” Well said.
Passing Obamacare in the face of the public opposition to it appears politically suicidal. Thus the Examiner’s invocation of Pickett’s Charge. It would certainly damage the prospects of the Democratic Party in the near term and New York Post opinion editor Mark Cunningham thinks the damage may extend beyond that.
Cunningham begins his column with this thought extracted from the mind of a hypothetical Democrat: “Hey, passing health- care reform may cost us the House or even the Senate this fall — but we’ll get control back eventually, and the Republicans will never be able to repeal it.”
Isn’t that right? I have always thought that repeal would be impossible as a practical matter once the damned thing is enacted. Andrew McCarthy holds: “If Obamacare passes, Obamacare is forever.” Repeal is theoretically possible, but it would defy the laws of political gravity.
I therefore think that it’s an error to take consolation in the political damage that the final push for Obamacare will do to Democrats. The thing must be stopped. If stopping it improves the fortunes of Democrats, we must be willing to pay the price.

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