The premise that there was a compromise that Republicans could make that would improve this bill and provide hope for future more free market changes is unfounded. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi would take Republican votes and give nothing of substance to Republicans. The opposition to the healthcare bill was bipartisan; its passage, partisan. Look at the Stupak Amendment. It got more bipartisan votes than any other part of this bill and yet it is out. What did Stupak, a Democrat get instead? A revocable executive order that no court will say beats the language of the law itself. That is the only compromise possible with this man. He gets the substance and those to his right are left with contingent, meaningless tinsel.
Is there anyway Obama/Pelosi would negotiate on tort reform? They simply will not work in any way to defund the left. Surely the proponent of a view that they would needs evidence? Even the compromises Frum proposes are useless. One of the great jibes at Bob Dole, was Newt Gingrich’s immortal line that he wanted to be “the tax collector for the welfare state.” An argument that is focused around what taxes should fund things the government should not be doing ab initio is a loser for Republicans. That is the fate of “right” parties of Europe. They exist only to clean up Labor messes and then go out to watch and acquiesce meekly to ever more aggrandizement of the state.
As long as Pelosi had a 74 seat majority and Reid had 60 votes in the Senate there could be no compromise to bring in Republicans that would benefit the country, the Republican party or redound to either’s benefit. Who is Obama? That is the crux of the matter. He is not the first George Bush. He does not believe nor come from a background where conservatives or Republicans are part of a governing coalition. He wants to destroy rugged individualism and any source of freedom independent of government control. Frum does not believe that. But there is no evidence in Obama’s past or his governing strategy that supports that view. This health reform bill, a stimulus program that mainly funds state governments and unions, the killing of the D.C. voucher program, the fact that every solution he offers subordinates the individual to the state and diminishes the ability of Americans to keep what they earn belies a view that he can be dealt with other than with strength. A president who wants to compromise meaningfully with Republicans does not appoint Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff.
Frum did not predict the election of Scott Brown (neither did I!). Senator Brown was not propelled to victory by the base Republican vote, or by talk radio supporters. He was propelled to victory by voters who have voted for Democrats before but are appalled by what that party is doing on healthcare and spending. The same is true to a lesser extent for the governors of Virginia and New Jersey. Senator Jim DeMint said that if it fails it will be President Obama’s Waterloo and that offended many. That does not mean that its passage is a Republican Waterloo. It is a bad legislative loss, yes. But opposition to it has united Republicans, more than ten percent of elected congressional Democrats and independents and formed a new movement to control spending. The fact that President Obama did not compromise when Scott Brown was elected shows no compromise was possible. This was a message not from Republicans but from a liberal state that elected him. Obama did nothing to meet that challenge. There was no speech like President Bush made about the “thump’n.” in 2006 which was followed by him terminating Rumsfeld.
Where do the Democrats stand after this famous victory? They own every healthcare problem anybody in the country suffers. Barack Obama is revealed as a nakedly partisan figure. Democrats in conservative states, like Ben Nelson can no longer fly under a false flag. There is nothing on the legislative calendar that can regain them votes and is popular with their base. Will it be entirely repealed? Probably not, but will it be gutted? Will its worst features be neutered? Will Barack Obama spend the next three years getting no more noxious bills through the Senate and House?
In the seventies, a milquetoast Republican Party compromised with a statist Democratic Party and lost again and again while the state grew and we suffered blow after blow abroad. We are living in the 70s again. Job prospects are down, federal agencies are fattened, our enemies grow emboldened abroad, but the Republican Party needs no Reagan. It has rallied.