Waterloo or Dunkirk?

Last summer, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) predicted that if Republicans were “able to stop” passage of a comprehensive health care reform bill, the defeat would be President Obama’s “Waterloo” (a reference to the French Emperor Napoleon’s final battle). In the months that followed, health care industry lobbyists and their GOP counterparts engaged in a shameful campaign of scare-tactics, disinformation and outright lies against reform.

This cynical crusade proved brutally effective, turning public opinion against the bill and helping to sweep Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) into office. Consequently, Democratic leaders are considering scrapping the legislation and starting from scratch. Some even advocate walking away from the issue entirely. That would be a huge mistake. If Congressional Democrats abandon health care now, DeMint’s statement may very well come true.

On the contrary, by coming together and successfully salvaging some semblance of reform, this battle may prove to be President Obama’s Dunkirk rather than his Waterloo. For those who slept through history class, the “miracle of Dunkirk” occurred in 1940, prior to U.S. involvement in World War Two. Following a disastrous offensive against Nazi Germany in France, over 300,000 retreating British troops were rescued from the beaches around Dunkirk and ferried back across the English Channel to fight another day.

Ever since, the term “Dunkirk spirit” has been synonymous with Britain’s stoic resolve and tendency to band together when faced with tremendous adversity. Democrats can learn much from this quintessential “disaster turned to triumph.” If they answer the call of history and rally to pass comprehensive health care reform, it would provide a psychological boost to Democratic morale and build momentum heading into the 2010 midterm elections.

According to Politico.com, the most likely scenario for passage involves the House approving the Senate’s bill word-for-word, while House leaders make limited changes to appease certain, key constituencies. These revisions would then be passed by the Senate using a parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation, generally reserved for budget measures, that requires only 51 votes.

Opponents of reform will inevitably argue that invoking reconciliation amounts to subverting the people’s will. However, that opinion fails to acknowledge the underhanded tactics employed by the GOP to influence public opinion. It also ignores the precedent set by the Bush Administration when they used reconciliation to push through their tax cuts for the wealthiest one-percent of Americans in 2001 and 2003.

As Democratic strategist David Plouffe noted in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post yesterday, “Americans’ health and our nation’s long-term fiscal health depend on” passing, “a meaningful health care reform package without delay.” The status quo, in regard health care and many other issues, is unsustainable. Congressional Democrats must approve the reform bill and let the American People judge it on its own merits instead of Republican propaganda.

The British experience at Dunkirk demonstrates how an inspiring moral victory, snatched from the jaws of demoralizing defeat, can quickly transform into an enduring, rallying cry. Although, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill cautioned after that epic rescue, “wars are not won by evacuations.” President Obama and his fellow Democrats must win major, decisive, legislative victories in the coming months and years. Passing a comprehensive health care reform bill by any means necessary is the first step towards achieving those goals.

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12 thoughts on “Waterloo or Dunkirk?

  1. The people have spoken, not only in Massachusetts but in poll after poll. The people DO NOT want the health care “reform” passed by the Senate. It would make health care more expensive, harder to get and government controlled. Worse yet, it would mean government paid abortions for the first time.

    Except for the government paid abortions, I hope that the House does pass the Senate’s version of the bill. The Democrats would *certainly* regret it in November.

    • As per the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office, “In the absence of significant changes in policy, rising costs for health care will cause federal spending to grow much faster than the economy, putting the federal budget on an unsustainable path…large reductions in spending will not actually be achieved without fundamental changes in the financing and delivery of health care.”

      So, there you have it. If you have any evidence to the contrary, from a source other than Fixed News or World Nut Daily, I’d like to see it.

      Also, a post-election Washington Post poll shows that Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts was not a referendum on health care reform or President Obama. It is also important to remember that former Governor Mitt Romney, a staunch Republican, implemented universal health care in Massachusetts. And, last time I checked, the state hadn’t devolved into chaos or adopted socialism.

      • I believe that people at heart are naturally selfish and always work for their own self interests. Why would Massachusetts want to have more taxes to pay for nationally what they already have at the state level?

        • By your logic, Massachusetts might as well secede from the Union since other states interests might conflict with theirs. This is a silly argument. Before I respond, I’ll have to see some statistics on how much more citizens of the Bay State would pay in taxes under the health care legislation currently circulating in Congress. Your claim seems highly dubious.

          • What claim? That people act in their own self interests?

            Think on an individual level. What would passing national health reform net a person in Massachusetts?

            • I’m referring to your claim that passing health care reform would significantly increase the tax burden for the average citizen in Massachusetts. Unless you come up with some numbers, I’m considering your objection a moot point.

              Put simply, what would passing health care reform cost a person in Massachusetts?

              Is your argument that we should revert to anarchy? Get serious.

              • My argument was not that taxes would go up, but that taxes could go up. The national reform has a lot of unknowns. They already have a state plan, which they are now familiar with. Why would someone want to give up something familiar for something unknown that really offers no more benefits to that person?

  2. I FOLLOWED SCOTTS CAMPAIGN FROM DAY 1 AND VIRTUALLY EVERY AD HE RAN MENTIONED HIS OPPOSITION TO THE HEALTHCARE PLAN.ANY POLLS THAT SAY DIFFERENT IF THERE ARE INDEED ANY ARE WRONG.

    • Regardless of Brown’s campaign promises, the vast majority of Massachusetts voters want the Senator-elect to work with Democrats to improve the health care bill, not blindly obstruct it. Here’s a link to the the Washington Post poll results, if you still don’t believe me.

      Furthermore, as Post columnist Ezra Klein noted in his column regarding the poll, “As you can see in the graph atop this post, a majority of people who voted for Martha Coakley and a plurality of non-voters support the bill…Elsewhere in the poll, a majority of Coakley voters, non-voters and Brown voters say they approve of the Massachusetts health-care reforms, which are very similar to the national plan.”

      If you don’t believe me, click the link and see for yourself. I tend to trust the Washington Post as a reputable source (they did break Watergate, after all). So, I’m comfortable taking their word over yours.

      Notice that I supported my argument with facts and evidence. If you’re going to continue to post on my site, please do the same.

  3. SINCE I LIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS AND HAVE FOR 62 YEARS I HAVE A LOT BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF LOCAL POLITICS THAN YOU, AND THE LAST THING THE POST SCOOPED WAS WATERGATE YOU NEED MORE MODERN RESOURCES.

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