Maybe it’s time for a new Democratic Party mascot?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That scared little rodent in the picture is a Lemming.

Yesterday’s 14 to 9 vote by the Senate Finance Committee is being touted by the White House and Senate leadership as a “bipartisan” endorsement of the Committee’s proposed healthcare reform legislation. Of the 10 Republicans on the Committee, only Olympia Snowe of Maine voted for it. Good news for The Red Team: Notwithstanding Senator Snowe’s reservations and caveats, the Republicans are no longer officially the party of “No.” One of them has said “Yes.” In fact 10% of Republicans on the Committee, if you like using percentages for small numbers, support the Baucus plan.

What everyone seems to missing is that Snowe’s affirmative vote is not what’s striking here. What’s notable is the complete lack of dissenting votes among the 13 Democrats on the Committee. It’s frankly unbelievable that not one Democrat on the Committee – although there are a few elsewhere in the Senate –found enough wrong with Chairman Baucus’ legislation and had the balls to say so by casting a “No” vote.

No mistake about it, there are significant concerns being voiced by Democrats in both houses, but those concerns will be resolved soon enough by a combination of compromise that produces junk legislation and old fashion political pressure from Congressional leadership and The White House.

This is historic alright, but not in the same league as, for example, civil rights legislation. There’s no huge social principle at stake, although the President and Congress would like us to think so. This is about fixing a malfunctioning market for medical services. This is technical and “technical” isn’t something our government does well.

Only nincompoops – not a term I get to use frequently, but entirely appropriate in this instance – would try to resolve the myriad of issues that are involved in correcting this market in a single comprehensive piece of legislation to the satisfaction of 535 legislators and their various constituencies. This has been a botched effort from the beginning, initiated by an inexperienced President in cooperation with a Democrat controlled Congress with a herd mentality and leadership, particularly in the House, that is woefully inept. (Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi as President of the United States?)

Whew. Quite the rant. Sorry. Can’t help myself. (I’m not a Republican, in case you’re wondering, but a registered independent in a heavily Democratic state.) In any case, getting back to the unanimity among Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, I ask you: Should the Democrats stay with the Donkey which they’ve had since opponents of President Jackson called him a “Jack Ass” in 1828, or update their image to something more cuddly like the cute, but cowardly Lemming pictured above? Hmm? Pretty much a toss-up, now that I think about it.


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