Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Box-Canyon Presidency

You have to hand it to the president. He is nothing daunted by the unpopularity of his agenda. Nothing daunted by the decisive electoral losses in Virginia, in New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Never mind that. Just power on with the Big Push to get ObamaCare over the line, somehow, anyhow. Because once it's enacted it will be impossible to repeal it. Or so the assumption goes.

The Wall Street Journal edit page seems to think it's Ben Hur and Jack Hawkins on the deck of the Roman trireme all over again. "ObamaCare at Ramming Speed" they call it.

The larger political message of this new proposal is that Mr. Obama and Democrats have no intention of compromising on an incremental reform, or of listening to Republican, or any other, ideas on health care.

They are going to ram it through with Chicago Rules.

Never mind that this country is built upon the notion of the "consent of the governed." Power is power, and you don't go to Washington to play patty-cake.

The problem for the American people is that the president is flying us up a box canyon. That's the kind of canyon that's too narrow to turn in, with a rock wall at the end. When you fly up the canyon there is no turning back, and no way to power up over the rock wall at the end.

Maybe we'll be able to kick out 70 or 80 House members in November. Maybe we'll be able to elect a conservative in 2012. But the bigger problem remains. The huge administrative welfare state is just sitting there getting bigger every day. And President Obama is giving a tremendous lurch to make it even bigger.

We know what happens in the end. You get a country like Argentina that just dumps its debt every generation. Last time around it seized the bank accounts of ordinary people. Or you get Greece, where the public employees are taking to the streets to defend their indefensible salaries and retirement benefits. Government is, in the end, an armed minority extracting requisitions from the peasantry.

It's a shame, because it's the ordinary people, the Democratic voters, that will suffer when President Obama (or his successor) flies the airplane into the rock wall. They will be the people without parachutes, that tied their livelihood to the government and its benefits. They will be the people "eating the paint off the walls."

It's all very exciting, of course. But its when things get exciting that people fall off.

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