Ed Driscoll

Mr. President, We Cannot Afford A Demagogy Gap!

At the start of August, Hot Air’s Allahpundit noted that so much of the Democrats’ health care sturm und drang has been kabuki theater of the highest order:

Let me remind you again: They can pass any bill they want any time they want. Conservatives can scream their heads off at these things and there’s not an ounce of good it’ll do if Democrats are united. This whole partisan “war” Obama and Axelrod have concocted is kabuki theater against an enemy they’ve already (momentarily) defeated; it’s the Blue Dogs’ fear that they’ll be thrown out of office if they vote for this travesty that’s put the left in the predicament they’re in. The cowardice they’re showing in not wanting to face their constituents is actually obscuring the deeper cowardice of the the party stalling on a landmark bill they finally have the numbers to pass for no better reason than that doing so will jeopardize their hold on power next year. They want ObamaCare and they want their permanent majority, and if the only way they can get both is by calling conservatives Nazis then that’s what they’re a-gonna do.

Nearly a month later, the charade continues, as the Rhetorican writes:

Politico: Gibbs says [Senator] Mike Enzi [R-WY] is betraying bipartisanship because of how he “trashed Democrat reform ideas”.

Bipartisanship?  Pffft.  This White House and this President don’t need bipartisanship.  HE WON, remember?  You Dem, Sillyheads.  Such poor memories.

Besides, what do you need bipartisanship for when you control both houses and the White House?

And what happens if they lose? Not to worry, PBS’s Bill Moyers helpfully opines, unintentionally echoing Bill Murray’s “It just doesn’t matter” rant from Meatballs: if President Obama were to “lose this fight, this fall – I guarantee you it would reinvigorate the party that we all know is suffering now from not being sure who it is and who it’s for.”

It just doesn’t matter! And yet, in Salon, liberal pundit Michael Lind asks, in a recurring theme of his, “Why can’t Democrats mobilize the public for healthcare reform? Blame the demagogy gap”:

FDR would be shocked by the inability of his party to mobilize the public on behalf of reform.

The irony is that the modern conservative movement started out by opposing the very populism it later embraced. The late William F. Buckley Jr. was influenced by the philosopher Albert Jay Nock, a family friend who despised mass democracy. Buckley’s never-published philosophical manifesto, written in the 1950s and early 1960s (he allowed me to read the manuscript), was a critique of the mass society, inspired by the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset’s “The Revolt of the Masses.” The symbol of empty, decadent mass politics for the young Buckley, as for Gore Vidal in his novel “Washington, D.C.,” was the telegenic celebrity politician John F. Kennedy. A few years later in the 1960s, Buckley wrote that he would rather be governed by the first 400 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty, and in 1980 the conservative movement captured the White House in the person of the ultimate telegenic celebrity master of mass politics, Ronald Reagan.

While the right was rejecting its gloomy elitism and embracing the mass society and populist politics, liberalism was moving in the other direction. Liberal intellectuals, shocked by McCarthyism and the rejection by the voters of the urbane Adlai Stevenson for Dwight Eisenhower, concluded that the American people themselves were the problem.

As Orrin Judd adds, “We are.”

Related: Speaking of Robert Gibbs and the president’s agenda, Jim Geraghty asks, “Boy, Nobody Knows When the Senate Will Vote on Cap-and-Trade, Huh?”

Related: From CNS News,Chances of Health Compromise Fading, After Republican Negotiator [Enzi] Criticizes Democrats’ Plan.”

Update: Jennifer Rubin spots the legacy media “Stunned as ObamaCare Unravels”:

Film screenwriter William Goldman once wrote of Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” What is often true of movie-makers — due largely to the all-too human inability to predict what the public will like — is all the more accurate of mainstream media pundits. For all their years of experience and their supposed grasp of the fine points of politics, it seems most of them were caught flat-footed, just like the White House, when it came to the unraveling of ObamaCare.

As Yogi Berra once quipped, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” But not the MSM, where the job invariably seems to be to keep the news out of the public eye, rather than disseminating it.