I knew something had been missing from the health care screaming match the last few weeks. Then I realized what it was, kind of like the roar your neighbor’s annoying lawnmower on a Sunday afternoon, that you stop hearing until you suddenly notice a sweet silence.
Where did all the progressives go? What happened to the 60 House Democrats who vowed in a letter last July they would not vote for a Senate bill without a public option? I looked over the list of 34 Democrats who joined the totalitarian House Republican bloc in voting against the bill. Not many names there from the Gang of 60. More than half the no votes came from conservative Southern and Western states, so they probably would have voted against the bill regardless of the public option.
Perhaps those progressives are hoping that a public option might come through the Congressional reconciliation process or something. But that smacks of…compromise. Parliamentary procedure. Practical politics. Such would be unworthy of True Believers who would rather see insurers continue to cancel the policies of cancer victims, then vote for a bill without a public option.
I’d like to think that progressives came to their senses. Perhaps they realized that there is never going to be a President Nader to save the day, and that even a flawed health care bill was better than shooting down the whole bill, which would have crippled health care reform for a generation (and the Obama presidency in the process). If 60 House Democrats had voted against a bill that only passed on a 219-212 party-line vote, then it would have failed. Obama would have been humiliated. Republicans would be emboldened. And the Tea Partiers? Nothing is more vicious than a mad dog that smells blood.
I’m not doing the Happy Dance over the the health care law. There are too many compromises. Too many things distasteful or corrupt. But I am happy that health care reform passed despite being opposed by as vicious an alliance of fanatics, racists and lunatics that have ever turned American politics into a freak show. That alone is worth celebrating.