GOP trapped by Phony Outrages
Posted Mar 21, 2010, 1:04 PM PT
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum says that while he opposes the health care reform plan, its passage represents major defeat for the Republican Party. In his words, it’s the GOP’s "Waterloo."
Those of us who said there was a deal to be done, that there are a lot of parts of this bill that look familiar, that look like Mitt Romney’s plan, that look like plans Republicans proposed in 1993 and 1994, they look like things that were drafted at the Heritage foundation in 1990 and 1991, we can work with this, there are things we don’t like, [but] President Obama will pay a lot maybe for 20 or 30 Republican votes, let’s deal — that was shut down, we went the radical way, looking for Waterloo, and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo.
…Some of the Republican leadership like Jim DeMint, I think did play a very hard-line role. Some of our leaders were trapped. They were trapped by voices in the media that revved the Republican base into a frenzy that made dealing impossible. I mean, you can’t negotiate with Adolf Hitler, and if the President is Adolf Hitler, then obviously you can’t negotiate with him. So some of the blame has has got to go to those who said, who got the psychology of the party to a point where a lot of good people, reasonable people were trapped.
…We are encouraging a mood of radicalism in the party that is not just uncivil, that’s not the problem, the problem is it makes you stupid. It makes you make bad decisions, it leads you to think that President Obama with 53% of the vote is as beatable in 2009 as President Clinton with 42% of the vote in 1993, and that’s obviously not true.
Frum points the finger squarely at "radical" Republicans like Jim DeMint who made the decision to not negotiate with President Obama, instead betting all their chips on a failed strategy of obstruction.
Frum says that within the bill there are many provisions that conservatives should be able to support, and that it was a huge mistake for them to say "no" instead of seeking common ground. As a result, Frum says, Democrats will be able to claim full credit for passing a bill with many popular provisions, leaving the GOP out in the cold.
Frum’s argument relies on a difficult juggling act, simultaneously saying he doesn’t like the bill and blaming blaming conservatives for having negotiated with Obama on it, but his basic argument was that Republicans never had a chance of defeating reform, and should have tried to get as much as they could given that it would pass. By standing on the sidelines, he says, Republicans missed an opportunity to at least achieve some conservative goals, and he places the blame for that squarely on the most extreme elements of the GOP.
Whether or not you agree with everything Frum has to say, it’s a very clear example of kind of self-examination and finger pointing that will dominate the discussion inside the GOP in the wake of their defeat on health care reform.
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