GOP still torn by Obamacare McCarthyism


Last week, I told you HERE about the McCarthyism some Republicans are practicing these days to smear their party mates whose opposition to Obamacare hasn’t been wacky enough.

Today, we have NEWS that this penchant apparently is far from running its course:

When House Republicans unveiled a proposal in the fall aimed at avoiding a dead-end government shutdown over Obamacare, the conservative backlash was swift and brutal: they called it a surrender, a betrayal, an appeasement of the health care law they all abhor.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) decried it as “procedural chicanery” that would make House Republicans “complicit in the disaster that is Obamacare,” should they go along with it. FreedomWorks called it a “bait and switch to give the Senate a hall pass to fund Obamacare” and accused House GOP leaders of wanting to “cave and run.”

Since then the phenomenon has grown and taken hold in the 2014 primaries as Republicans accuse their opponents of privately harboring sympathies for Obamacare.

“I’ve not seen anything like this before,” said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It is just such an interesting phenomenon — call it anthropological or sociological or pathological. An obsessive hatred with all things Obamacare that has infected everybody on the Republican side. They can’t say anything positive about any element of a law that is based on their own fundamental ideas. It means that when anybody says something that could in any way be construed as positive regarding Obamacare it becomes fodder for attacks. … Conservatives are eating their own.”

In a way, the phenomenon is reminiscent of McCarthyism, named after Sen. Joe McCarthy, who in the 1950s accused U.S. government officials and others of secretly sympathizing with communism. But Obamacare McCarthyism takes that to a new level, Ornstein argued.

“Even then it was pretty clear that you had a lot of Republicans — it was very clear that President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower viewed what McCarthy was doing as appalling,” he said. “We call it McCarthyism when you’re basically slimed for something you said or did. But even that was different because you had a party that was divided — not on the issue of communism, but on whether it was fair to [attack people as communist sympathizers].”

The accusations in the fall were so devastating that GOP leaders, against their better instincts, caved and shut down the federal government for 16 days to prove their anti-Obamacare mettle. Three months later, as tensions reach a fever pitch over the law’s rollout woes, the McCarthyite insinuations continue to spring up when Republicans profess less than a unvarnished desire to destroy Obamacare at all costs, no matter the likelihood of success or the impacts of the scorched-earth strategy on the lives of their constituents.


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