Here, kitty kitty kitty….
Say that at just the right time and in just the right way…and you still don't know what the heck you're going to get — they are cats, you know. You might get a tabby-cat named Tiger (because of its overactive libido). Or maybe Bill the Cat from Bloom County (Ack! Thbbft!) or Hobbes chasing down a mortally-terrified Calvin. If you're not so lucky, you'll get the white cat so beloved by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. You won't get a roar from the liberal lion who fought for a generation to see this day.
But say "here, kitty kitty" at the wrong place and at the wrong time (like into a dark alleyway when you're a mouse pretending to be an elephant) and you just might see hundreds, thousands — nay, tens of millions of pairs of glowing yellow eyes open…wide at first, then narrowing hungrily at the sight of vulnerable prey. Then you've got a real problem on your hands…especially if you can't run because you shot yourself in the foot.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum succinctly points out that the conservatives did just that by refusing to compromise, to negotiate in good faith even when the Obama administration's health care proposal had "a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan (never mind that Romney says Obama has committed "an unconscionable abuse of power" and has "betrayed his oath to the nation"). It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994." The real cause of the problem, he says, is that the Republicans allowed themselves to be trapped by the far-right pundits on Fox News and talk radio. After all, can a congressman expect to be reelected if his electoral base sees him negotiating in good faith with a Kenyan-born, America-hating, white people-hating, terrorist-palling, Muslim Nazi/communist/socialist who happens to be black? Especially when he's instituting a communist system of mandated health care that includes death panels that are sure to put grandma to death?
No. Any Republican congressman who wants to keep his job knows that to be seen giving the least consideration to such a man is to be sure to be vilified by the conservative base…and Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Levin, Savage, Drudge, Malkin et al will see to it.
David Frum's most telling point is not only that the conservative pundits have bombarded the country and mobilized the conservative base with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk to the point that it is impossible for conservative representatives to represent and conservative elected leaders to lead…but also that the priority of those conservative pundits was not so much to support a conservative agenda; instead, their primary aim is — quite naturally — to keep their listeners angry so they will keep listening (and keep patronizing the pundits' sponsors).
But David Frum is really only a voice in the wilderness. Fox News, World Net Daily, NewsMax, and the Drudge Report (when I checked eight hours after the bill passed the House) were proclaiming the "Democrat Party's trillion-dollar budget-busting bill", but none of them — not one — cared to mention in the articles that the Congressional Budget Office had stated that the Health Care Reform bill would save well over a trillion dollars from the federal budget over the next two decades. Nor did they care to mention that the Republicans' Medicare Part D increased the national debt by over a half trillion dollars.
So what will the Republicans do now? The same thing they've been doing since Newt Gingrich took control back in the 90's — double down on conservative dogma. After every misstep — Katrina, Iraq, No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, Medicare Part D, and the Great Recession — the conservatives have doubled down, claiming that things went wrong because America wasn't conservative enough. After every Democratic success — the elections in 2006 and 2008 — the conservatives doubled down even more. "Thou shalt not work hand-in-hand with godless liberals!" seems to be the first and most important commandment among the Republicans of today.
And this has brought out the very worst among them. Witness the racist and anti-gay invective hurled at members of Congress by Tea Party protesters. What's troubling isn't that the insults were made…but that the others among the Tea Party protesters who must have heard the insults did nothing about it. Nothing at all. To their credit, GOP leaders have apologized for the protesters' conduct, but those who organized and led the protest apparently took no responsibility whatsoever. One wonders what the white/black ratio in the Tea Party protest was. I suspect it was probably about the same as in the vast majority of other Tea Party protests — lily-white, or very nearly so.
So what does the future hold? While history shows that the Democrats should lose seats in both the House and Senate in the midterm elections later this year, if the economy improves as it seems it will, and when millions of Americans suddenly discover they no longer have to choose between paying for health care and paying for the mortgage…the Democrats might well be smiling come mid-November.
Keep it up, GOP pundits! You're the Democrats' secret weapon! Instead of speaking softly and carrying a big stick as a good Republican once did, you're like Yosemite Sam: "Yeah? Well I speak LOUD! And I carry a BIIIIIGGER shtick!" Thanks to your hate speech, your false accusations, your proclivity to ignore historical and scientific FACT in order to sustain the illusions held by the most ignorant among the conservative base, you are ensuring Democratic victory — if not in 2010, then certainly in 2012. You're doing a better job of broadening the Democratic base than we ever could by ourselves…and that's the secret! If you want to win, you broaden your base, rather than solidify it. This is certainly not meant to sound racist, but from what I understand, "Schwarz" means "black" in German…and thanks to you, oh GOP pundits, the Schwarz is with us, the Democrats! Or at the very least, our Schwarz IS bigger than yours! (Owww…couldn't resist. No jokes about Ahnold's name, please.) (Note – if you're not a Mel Brooks fan, ignore the last couple sentences 'cause you just wouldn't understand)
But seriously, the ironic thing is that we Democrats could tell the Republicans all day long that they need to broaden their base but they still wouldn't believe it. It's almost like Br'er Rabbit telling Br'er Fox how he's going to escape by getting himself thrown in the briar patch, and Br'er Fox doesn't believe Br'er Rabbit and throws him into the briar patch anyway! "Born and raised in a briar patch, Bret Br'er Fox News! Born and raised in a briar patch!"
But the important metaphor here is not rabbits, but cats. It takes a lot to get cats to work together, but you did it! We've been kicked around, ridiculed, scorned…but we owe a debt of thanks to Newt Gingrich, Dubya and Dick, and the conservative pundits – for it was they who somewhat harshly reminded us once more that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and in the long, vicious battle we just fought over Health Care Reform, we just got a nice, long whiff of catnip. As for myself, I love the smell of catnip in the morning. It smells like…victory!
Here, Dumbo Dumbo Dumbo….