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Contentions

Desperation Time

James Taranto, like many of us, is trying to decipher what it is that would motivate professional politicians, who’ve succeeded by carefully assessing public opinion and working within legislative and constitutional rules, to behave so bizarrely. Here’s reconciliation! I see your reconciliation and raise you a Slaughter Rule! And so it goes. What’s next? (Perhaps C-SPAN can superimpose a blue dot over the face of floor speakers so as to maintain their anonymity.) Taranto concludes:

What accounts for the relentless drive to ram ObamaCare through every procedural obstacle, regardless of the political cost? Ideological zeal, from Obama himself above all, is part of the explanation, but it isn’t sufficient. One can, after all, be ideologically committed to a goal without falling into a self-defeating obsession.

There seems to be an emotional desperation at work here. The legislative success of ObamaCare has become so tied up with Obama’s sense of himself that he feels he must push ahead–and to some extent, the leaders in Congress feel the same way. Obama is not the calm rationalist he seemed during the campaign. But while there’s a place for passion in politics, to be governed by a politician who fails to govern his passions is a frightening and creepy experience.

Indeed, Obama let on that this frenzy to achieve passage of a hugely irresponsible and politically unpopular bill was in large part ego-driven when he started hounding House Democrats to save his presidency. (He, however, has no interest in saving their congressional careers as he demands that they walk the plank to vote against their constituents’ wishes.)

But should we be surprised? This was the candidate who created a cult of personality, who told us he represented the “New Politics,” who was going to eschew politics-as-usual, and who would be post-partisan, post-racial, and post-ideological. Now he’s a handful of votes away from a humiliating defeat. No wonder it’s desperation time. His possible failure would not be a mere political failure; it would be the obliteration of his own mythology.

Should he squeak it out, Obama’s “victory” would come with a heavy price. Gone is the image of a policy sophisticate (try watching that Bret Baier interview a few times without wincing). Gone is the “moderate” moniker. And gone is the notion that he’d usher in a new era of less contentious and less corrupt politics. (It’s a new era, perhaps, but hardly a better one.) There is no mistaking now the depth of the campaign deception. The public has figured out what he is all about. And increasingly, they dislike what they see.


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