Political extremists finally get the death panels they warned us about


Timothy Egan’s eloquent snarkiness in THIS PIECE is something to behold:

Sarah Palin finally got her death panels — a direct blow from the Republican House. In shutting down the government, leaving 800,000 people without a paycheck and draining the economy of $300 million a day, the Party of Madness also took away last-chance cancer trials for children at the National Institutes of Health.

And now that the pain that was dismissed as a trifle on Monday, a “slimdown” according to the chuckleheads at Fox News, is revealed as tragic by mid-week, the very radicals who caused the havoc are trying to say it’s not their fault.

It’s too late. They flunked hostage-taking. About 30 or so Republicans in the House, bunkered in gerrymandered districts while breathing the oxygen of delusion, are now part of a cast of miscreants who have stood firmly on the wrong side of history. The headline, today and 50 years from now, will be the same: Republicans closed the government to keep millions of their fellow Americans from getting affordable health care.

They are not righteous rebels or principled provocateurs. They are not constitutionalists, using the ruling framework built by the founders. Just the opposite: they are a militant fringe of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government trying to nullify an established law by extortion. This is not the design of the Constitution.

Nor are they Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks or Winston Churchill — preposterous comparisons made on the floor of Congress by those whose only real fight is with progress.

In truth, they are the Know-Nothings from the 1850s who fought Irish Catholics and other castoffs from distant lands, vowing to keep them from becoming citizens. Their incarnation today is the Tea Party Republicans who call Latinos drug mules and would rather strangle the federal government than take up immigration reform.

They are the opponents of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, labeling what are now the two most popular government programs as socialism that would destroy the country. They are the foes of science and modernism, denying evolution, climate change and, on election nights, math.

Over the years, whether Democrat, Republican, Whig or Dixiecrat, the members of this club have one thing in common: they are left at the train station of destiny, and never realize it until it’s too late.

So of course they have no exit strategy. “We have to get something out of this,” said Representative Martin Stutzman, Republican of Indiana. “And I don’t know what that even is.” Truer words have not been spoken by any member of the Crazy Caucus since they took the House in 2010.


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