Politicians who are already adept wafflers and wrigglers are shadowboxing with their pre-Obama-Administration-selves. It s a very avant garde off-off-Broadway production sponsored by Koch Industries and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Yes. Weird, but totally worth watching.
In 2009 Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich merrily made the talk show rounds denouncing Obamacare as "rationing." During the health care reform debate he warned Americans of those "death panels."
Yet what about the conservative-maligned individual mandate? Turns out Newt touted it as a shiny Republican idea -- the gleaming hope of the nation -- a superior proposal to anything the Clintons could ever come up with in 1994.
But now he's against it. Well, kind of against it. This week on "Meet The Press," David Gregory pressed Gingrich on this very issue. The politician said, "Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay -- help pay for health care ... I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond..." Gregory then asked, "But that is the individual mandate, is it not?"
Gingrich's answer, "It's a variation on it."
So Newt agrees with Obamacare unless it's called Obamacare. Then he s against it. Because it's Obamacare ... and that's secular socialism according to the thrice-married author.
Then there's former Governor of Massachusetts and current resident of San Diego Mitt Romney, who last week went to the University of Michigan and opened with how his brother attended their rival Michigan State. This is akin to going to New Jersey and starting with, "Trenton is great! My sister lives in Manhattan!" Romney should have quit while he was ahead.
As governor, Romney signed a bill in Massachusetts for what ended up being the model for Obamacare. But now he strangely must denounce Obamacare, so he says he'd repeal and replace it ... presumably with a similar version of Obamacare he'll then be for. It's indeed a difficult stance to take. His speech became a game of Semantic Twister where he sprinkled in words like, "freedom," "dreams" and "innovation" into a lesson about the GOP's BFF, the Tenth Amendment. This coincided with the 50th anniversary of Romneycare in Massachusetts.
Romney's law is popular in his state. People who live under the dreaded Obamacare model -- like it. It's not perfect, but neither is the highway system, and we don't talk about repealing and replacing that.
"It's difficult to see how an acknowledged success in Massachusetts can become a presumptive failure nationally," said Duvall Patrick, the state's current governor. "But you know, this is more about politics than policy."
Speaking of policy: What is the new Republican idea on health care? Is their new idea to kill their old idea? That s not actually an idea. And "leave it up to the states" is a plan like "it's there" is an atlas.
But perhaps the most tone-deaf unapologetically obtuse thing said by a Republican politician on health care comes from newbie Senator Rand Paul who, at a hearing of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health, announced anyone who believes in universal health care is advocating slavery. Yes. Slavery. Because a right to health care would mean poor U.S. doctors (the highest paid doctors in the world) would be conscripted along with (according to Paul) ... janitors.
Ask anyone who's ever been middle-class under age 65 and found themselves sick if they feel free. Ask anyone who's ever stared at a pile of medical bills wondering if bankruptcy is the only answer if that isn't a form of indentured serfdom.
Senator Paul's namesake Ayn Rand collected Social Security and Medicare. She knew her medical expenses could cost more than she made writing books. So for all the bloviating about the evils of government -- the fantasy fiction writer who inspired selfishness and elitism had a deathbed conversion to socialized medicine.
I believe there are atheists in foxholes. And, apparently, libertarians on Medicare.
But they're playing Semantic Twister. Now, right hand red.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and fill-in host at The Young Turks. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.