Kucinich drops opposition to health-care bill (Washington Post).
Well, so much for conscience. The other day here, we had kind words for the stand taken by Dennis Kucinich against the boardroom-backroom boondoggle known as the health care bill. The main thrust of that post was not meant to be the innate wonderfulness of St. Dennis but the hypocrisy of the "Fightin' Progressives," such as Commander Kos and Alex Koppelman, who had launched a vituperative attack on Kucinich for daring to oppose the bill -- a measure which not only represents a complete and craven surrender of even the smallest crumbs of the progressives' original hopes for health care reform, but was also fatally tainted by the brazen bribe Obama took from the gorging, gouging drug and insurance cartels to make sure their destructive sway over American health care remains unbroken.
Still, I admit I was pleasantly surprised to see Kucinich stand up against the health care bill, apparently on principle, especially as he was also sponsoring a bill to end the Afghanistan War at the same time. (I realize the latter was a wholly symbolic act -- then again, all acts are symbolic to one degree or another; that is, they symbolize the moral stance behind the act, whether it is effective or not. Thus, "savvy" compromises on, say, appropriations for the Terror War or detainee policy or illegal surveillance symbolize an underlying acceptance of atrocity, tyranny and war crime.)
But I suspected the fix was in when I saw reports that Kucinich was flying with Obama for a presidential appearance in Ohio. There was little or no chance that Kucinich would have been engaged in such high-profile hitchhiking if he was not already in the bag for Barack.
And so it proved. Kucinich's cave-in did win him a respectful nod from the New York Times, which featured his turn-around in a front-page web story that had none of the usual snide asides about his "kooky" ideas that normally accompany any mainstream mention of him. The Washington Post kept the wonted snark, however, noting in its lede that:
...Kucinich, often a proponent of very liberal, unlikely ideas such as the creation of a "Department of Peace" and the impeachment of then-Vice President Cheney, has found his pragmatic streak.
Impeaching Dick Cheney! Gawd, what a loon, eh? And peace? We don't need no stinkin' peace.
Anyway, in the end, Dennis proved to be no menace at all to the Boondoggle Express. He got on board offering the same lame justification for junking his principles that a plethora of progressives have served up: the idea that passing the current HCR (High Corporate Returns) bill is somehow a step forward toward real reform somewhere down the road someday. The usual line is something like, "If we don't pass this horrible bill, we won't get another shot at real health care reform for 20 years." Or as Kucinich himself put it (somewhat inelegantly): "This is a defining moment for if we will have any opportunity to move off square one on health care."
This seems to me to be the exact opposite of the truth. In reality, if this horrible bill passes, we will be stuck with it for 20 years, because no Democratic politician -- "progressive," "pragmatist," or otherwise -- will want to go near the issue again. You can already hear the "savvy" counsel party bigwigs will dispense if anyone tries to "move off square one" on health care in the foreseeable future: "For God's sake, don't rake all that up again! Don't you remember the hell we went through getting that damn thing passed in 2010? You want to give the Republicans another club to beat us over the head with? We've done 'reform.' Leave it alone."
However, if this bill (which almost every "progressive" has declared is a misbegotten, corruption-ridden, botulistic glop of indigestible legislative sausage -- even as they threaten to wage holy war against anyone who votes against it) is defeated, then the ground will be cleared for genuine reform. A real leader could then say: "OK, we tried it your way. We brought in the corporations. We courted the Republicans shamelessly. We gave away the game on day one, took all our cards off the table, compromised every value we profess to hold. We backed down, we turned tail, we sold out. And it didn't work. Now, we're going to do it for real. Single-payer, universal: that's where we start, and by God, that's where we finish, or somewhere damn near to it. And if you don't like it -- well, let us refer you to the famous words uttered by Dick Cheney to Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate on that historic day in 2004."
If the bad bill is defeated, you can bring up a good bill in every Congressional session -- yes, for the next 20 years, if need be. Hell, you can bring it up every week. And if you beat the drums for genuine health care reform with even one-tenth of the strength and fervor that the Obama team lavishes on demonizing Iran, protecting torturers and enriching the criminal rich, then you wouldn't need 20 years -- or 20 weeks -- or 20 days -- to get it passed.
That's what a real leader could do. But of course, there is not even the shadow of a semblance of a real leader within 500 miles of the festering core of the Potomac Empire.
UPDATE: John Caruso has more on Kucinich, "the origami congressman."
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on March 18, 2010.