The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CNHI Special Projects

December 16, 2013

Democrats' double-standard brands opponents of Obamacare

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

Even President Obama seems to have realized that blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush, for everything that has gone wrong with his presidency has gotten old. But for him, blaming Republicans never gets old.

As expected, one of the chief talking points of the president and his supporters during the still-disastrous rollout of Obamacare is that Republicans aren’t helping him fix it.

They’ve done everything they could to undermine it. They’re out looking for people who have had trouble signing up, and trying to publicize their woes. They’re trying to get young adults – who are desperately needed to pay inflated prices for coverage they don’t need, so old people can pay lower prices – to opt out and pay the fine.

Democrats contend that Republicans were so intent on cutting funding for Obamacare that they shut the government down (well, maybe 15 percent of it.) Apparently, in Democrats' parallel universe, it doesn’t take two sides to create an impasse.

The president himself, while accepting some of the blame, said much of it still rested with Republicans who were “rooting for it to fail.” They’re the “party of no.” And on and on.

The mainstream press, as usual, carries water for the president and his people. One recent political cartoon depicted a group of Republicans sticking pins into a voodoo doll labeled Obamacare. See? That’s why the website isn’t working! Republicans are using black magic!

Supposedly “objective” commentators declare that the Obama administration did indeed screw up royally in its launch of what is supposed to be the president’s signature achievement, but they then take pains to point out that a large share of the blame has to lie with Republicans, who have done everything they could to sabotage what is, after all, “settled law” upheld by the Supreme Court.

Those who are only slightly more partisan contend that Republican opposition to Obamacare obviously means, “Republicans don’t want 40 million Americans to have health insurance.”

And amid all this noise, I can’t help but wonder what happened to what once was a favorite mantra of Democrats - right up until, oh, about Jan. 20, 2009, the date Obama took office.

Before then, every time Republicans complained that Democrats were obstructing President Bush’s initiatives, appointments or any other elements of his agenda, they would rise up in high indignation and declare, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Somehow, that phrase disappeared faster than Democrats are now trying to make the term “Obamacare” disappear in favor of “the Affordable Care Act.” I’m a bit surprised they aren’t trying to re-name it the “Bush Took-Your-Health-Plan-and-Doctor-Away Act.”

But, by Democrats’ own (prior) standard, Republicans have only been practicing the highest form of patriotism.

The more general point is that Obama and his supporters should put away their crying towels and stop whining to the public that Republicans are unconscionably mean for everything from trying to block Obamacare to trying to make Obama a one-term president. The president’s opponents are simply doing what opponents do – oppose.

Anyone with a shred of political awareness between 2001 and 2009 knows how viciously Democrats attacked Bush during his entire presidency, other than a few short months after 9/11. Search Google for the term "BushHitler," and it takes all of .31 seconds to come up with about 76,000 results.

Are Democrats going to pretend it was not their avowed goal to make Bush a one-term president? I attended a portion of the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, and I can assure you it was a fervent, constantly stated goal. I didn’t hear Republicans whining about it. That’s the way our political system is set up; every time a sitting president has run for re-election, the opposing party has tried to unseat him.

Do they seriously think that if Bush had been able to ram his proposal to partially privatize Social Security through Congress without a single Democratic vote, that Democrats would suddenly decide that, since it was now law, they would do their utmost to support it? Don’t be ridiculous.

It is not even a minor stretch to know that Democrats would have done all in their power to undermine it, including trying to convince as many people as possible not to move into a private account.

Would the media start calling them the “party of no,” and chide them for being intransigent for failing to try to make it work? If there were a host of “glitches” in the transition from the old system to the new, would Democrats and their media allies take kindly to Bush contending that Democrats should share in the blame because they had tried to “sabotage” his agenda?

Even to ask those questions borders on absurdity because the answers are obvious. Democrats have been, and would be, at least as obstructionist, and their attacks would be amplified by a media echo chamber cheering them on.

This is not about sabotaging Obamacare. The president himself, who took an oath to enforce the laws of the land, won’t even enforce it himself if it is politically inconvenient. He has already unilaterally changed it, granting waivers to favored constituencies and delaying its implementation to protect Democrats from voter backlash in next year’s mid-term elections.

Of course, the liberal desire for the president to enforce, not enforce, revise or even create laws on his (or her) own will evaporate the moment a Republican becomes president.

Only then – count on it – will dissent instantly morph from being one step from sedition to the highest form of patriotism.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

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