Mad About Obamacare? Blame Bush
The question conservatives should be asking though, is how did we get in this position in the first place? How come, over the course of two elections, Democrats were able to take back the White House and amass substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, allowing them to enact this sweeping legislation with no Republican votes – and huge defections in their own party? How could a generally right-of-center nation be taken over by liberals from Chicago and San Francisco?
The answer, of course, is that none of this would have been possible without George W. Bush -- or more broadly speaking, Bush era Republicanism. While they were in power, Republicans squandered an opportunity to push free market health care solutions. When they did use their power to pass major legislation, it was for policies like the big government Medicare prescription drug plan, which was (until today) the largest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society. They took earmarks and doled out farm and energy subsidies. They earned a reputation for fiscal recklessness and corruption and incompetent governance. President Obama ultimately forced through the health care bill in spite of the political consequences to his party because he’s ultimately a true believing liberal. But it was only because of the failures of Bush-era Republicanism that an ideological liberal with little experience was able to capture the presidency on the abstract notion of change.
(HT: R. S. McCain)
UPDATE: Klein left out maybe the biggest Bush failure of all: his inept handling of the two wars he launched but did not win.
UPDATE (3/24): Stand by your man was a great song; it is lousy politics.
Many of the comments at Am Spec and TOM attack Klein for criticizing Bush. I don't know which worries me more: the whiff of totalitarian party-lining implicit in the idea that true conservatives must only attack liberals and never Republicans or mounting evidence that for most commenters the 'net brings out their inner idiot. (Fortunately, the only commenters i have are reasonable or spam-bots. I delete the latter and appreciate the former so read what CJinPA wrote on this post.)
If conservatives and free-marketers don't criticize the Bush/Rove record, then three bad things happen. One, we look like hypocrites when we criticize liberals and Democrats. Two, the Bush years (and their disasters) get chalked up conservative ideas. Who could be surprised if the public was less than eager for a repeat. Three, Bushites end up appearing on TV as conservative spokesmen and get their heads handed to them.
For item 3 check out this:
Karl Rove appeared on ABC's This Week with a chart full of facts about the Obama health care bill and what it would do to the U.S. economy. Obama political consultant David Plouffe appeared with several humorous talking points provided him by the White House.
"We wanted him to be ready," says a White House communications aide. When Rove raised the issue of the damage the health care bill would cause the U.S. economy, Plouffe jumped in, saying, "Karl and the Republicans would be familiar with that. Under their leadership, they took us from big budget surpluses to a $1.3 trillion deficit."
Later, he used the line: "Karl and the Republicans have zero credibility -- about as much credibility as the country of Greece does to talk about fiscal responsibility."
Rove may have had the facts on his side but television is all about soundbites. Right now, any Democrat will win the soundbite battle if the issue is economics and his opponent made his bones serving Bush II.