Behold the cheerleaders for American failure
It was early in Barack Obama’s presidency that I was first struck by the amazing depth of right-wing hatred for the man.
The occasion was the announcement that Chicago had lost its bid to host the Summer Olympic Games of 2016.
I had been aware, of course, that Chicago’s status as Obama’s hometown and a Democratic Party stronghold had prompted widespread hope among political righties that the bid for the Olympics would fail. Never mind the potential upside for America in this situation. No! The humiliation of Obama is what mattered most. You see, the point was to oppose anything — even the Olympics — that might make Americans feel good about their country while this guy was in the White House.
But the reaction, when it came, stunned even me. Within minutes of the announcement that Chicago didn’t get the nod, the right-wing noise machine exploded.
Here’s a sampling of the comments:
Glenn Beck: “Oh, it’s so sweet…Savor this moment.”
BigGovernment.com: ”It is kind of like the world community saying to President Obama, ‘Not only no, but hell no!’”
Rush Limbaugh “[If] I sound gleeful — I am. I don’t deny it. I’m happy.”
Erick Erickson of RedState.com: “Hahahahaha…I thought the world would love us more now that Bush was gone. I thought if we whored ourselves out to our enemies, great things would happen. Apparently not. So Obama’s pimped us to every two bit thug and dictator in the world, made promises to half the Olympic committee, and they did not even kiss him.”
Michelle Malkin: “Goodbye, ‘Yes, we can.’ Hello, ‘No, you can’t.’”
All of this schadenfreude prompted Glenn Thrust of Politico.com to comment:
Remember when Republicans accused Democrats of rooting against America?
Judging from the volume of exultant Tweets and press releases from Republicans today — you’d think they’d won a doubleheader, what with Chicago losing the Olympics and the unemployment numbers rising unexpectedly…
Seconds after the stunning announcement that Chicago had been eliminated from Olympic contention, GOP luminaries were Twittering away with glee, celebrating the USA’s humiliating international loss, which, of course, embarrassed Obama…
In a similar vein, Timothy Egan had a GOOD COLUMN the other day about right-wing cheerleading for American failure:
It’s hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose. When the first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into orbit, in 1957, ended in disaster, did Democrats start to cheer, and unify to stop a space program in its infancy? Or, when Medicare got off to a confusing start, did Republicans of the mid-1960s wrap their entire political future around a campaign to deny government-run health care to the elderly?
Of course not. But for the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart.
I get it. This organized schadenfreude goes back to the dawn of Obama’s presidency, when Rush Limbaugh, later joined by Senator Mitch McConnell, said their No. 1 goal was for the president to fail. A CNN poll in 2010 found 61 percent of Republicans hoping Obama would fail (versus only 27 percent among all Americans).
Wish granted, mission accomplished. Obama has failed — that is, if you judge by his tanking poll numbers. But does this collapse in approval have to mean that the last best chance for expanding health care for millions of Americans must fail as well?
Does this mean we throw in the towel, and return to a status quo in which insurance companies routinely cancel policies, deny health care to people with pre-existing conditions and have their own death panel treatment for patients who reach a cap in medical benefits?
The Republican plan would do just that, because they have no plan but to crush the nation’s fledgling experiment. Sometimes they bring up vouchers, or tort reform, or some combination of catchphrases. Here was Sarah Palin, who is to articulate reason what Mr. Magoo is to vision, on the Republican alternative, as she told Matt Lauer:
“The plan is to allow those things that have been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there’s more competition, there’s less tort-reform threat, there’s less trajectory of the cost increases. And those plans have been proposed over and over. And what thwarts those plans? It’s the far left.”
Yes, it is a big and legitimate news story, for a presidency built on technical expertise, that the federal exchange is not working as promised. Ditto Obama’s vow that people could keep their bottom-feeder health care policies.
But where were the news conferences, the Fox News alerts, the parading of people who couldn’t get their lifesaving cancer treatments under the old system? Where was the media attention when thousands of people were routinely dumped once they got sick? When did Republicans in Congress hold an oversight hearing on the leading cause of personal bankruptcy — medical debt?
All of that is what we had before. And all of that is what we will return to if some version of the Affordable Care Act is not made workable. Republicans have a decent chance, in next year’s elections, of killing the dream of progressive presidents going back to Teddy Roosevelt. But they shouldn’t count on it. What’s going against them, or any party invested in failure, is that Americans are inherently optimistic. That alone may be enough to save Obamacare.