Dean Scontras

Dean Scontras

I was away much of the week, so I admittedly have not watched the events unfold from my normal perch. I can assure you though, having traveled from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco and back, having actually been up in the sky, despite claims made by some pundits this week that the sky was falling: The sky indeed remains safely intact. While the sky remains aloft, it appears that some other things in Washington are falling.

My more conservative friends believe the GOP is justified in their actions, yet a tad squeamish about inheriting the political blame for the shutdown. I would rather see more explanations like those offered by Stanford economist Thomas Sowell in his column this week and fewer theatrics like those offered by GOP chair Reince Priebus outside of the World War II Memorial, but I still tend to agree with my conservative friends.

And, given the president’s campaign promises of wanting to “end bitter partisan gridlock,” he should be leading the negotiations instead hiding behind the current series of door-slamming tactics. In fact, this would be the perfect opportunity for the president to instill a sense of certainty and confidence — his regretful but obvious method is to continue the campaign and cast blame.

The president is claiming, by the fact he won the presidential election and that the Supreme Court has ruled on the law’s constitutionality — that both the law and the people have spoken on Obamacare. The problem is, he’s wrong, and as a constitutional lawyer, he knows it.

In his column this week, Sowell correctly asserts what every American should know — that all spending bills originate in the House. Consequently, their bills to fund the government, with the exception of Obamacare, were constitutionally and politically consistent with the will of the people. The Senate refused to take up the House bills.

President Obama tends to forget that, last November, there was an election for the U.S. House as well as the presidency. Like it or not, in that election, the American people chose to maintain the GOP majority in the House.

I assume Americans who went to the polls in November were just as civically aware of the powers of the House as they were the powers of the presidency, and voted accordingly. Consequently, any claim that the House Republicans are somehow acting in defiance of the constitution, or in opposition to the will of the American people, or to blame for the shutdown is to disregard and ignore the constitutional separation of powers.

But facts be damned.

In contrast, U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree referred to House Republicans as “murderers” and “terrorists.”

There was no collective gasp in the media to the gross insensitivities of their remarks as there would have been if a Republican had made those remarks. Like a tree falling in the woods, their stupid and politically incorrect gaffes make no sounds. Depending upon of course, the political affiliation of the tree.

Alas, since the rise of Obamacare, fierceness and the eagerness to cast blame is the new realpolitik of the left.

It is as Whittaker Chambers once described the political pathos of the extreme left: “The answer is the root of that sense of moral superiority which makes (the left), though caught in crime, berate their opponents with withering self-righteousness. The vision has a mighty agitator and a mighty propagandist. They are the crisis. The agitator needs no soap box. It speaks insistently to the human mind at the point where desperation lurks. It speaks insistently to the human mind at the point where man’s hope and man’s energy fuse to fierceness.”

Calling your opponents “murderers” and “terrorists” is precisely meant to appeal to this part of the mind.

Obamacare’s legacy is not what it hasn’t done for our health care, but what it has done to our politics. It’s cheapened them. It’s sharpened them.

It’s subjugated reason, facts and honor for fierceness. It reduces good American people down to race, class and every other possible classification. Its shadow is seen in virtually every debate and campaign since. The current non-negotiable shutdown is just the most recent incarnation.

I remain mystified how the law at the center of the rancor remains, like the man whose very name it bears, above reproach. After all, it was conceived in bitter partisanship, rammed through Congress via a weird series of arcane parliamentary procedures prior to the arrival of Scott Brown who campaigned against it.

But perhaps, most egregiously, Congress itself has since exempted itself from the wonder of Obamacare after promising to live under it. All the while, at every turn, opponents of the law were met, and continued to be met, with a new surprising level of viciousness.

Look at Washington and listen — let me know if I’m wrong here: Obamacare didn’t just change our health care. It changed much more.

DEAN SCONTRAS was the Republican candidate for Maine’s 1st Congressional District in 2008 and 2010.


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