Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

In my wildest dreams I never would have imagined that the week's most colorful and throbbing heroine, Nancy Pelosi, was 70 years old. As it turns out, it was her birthday right after the health care bill passed, and a veritable army of blog-reading supporters got together on line and flooded her office with thousands of roses. It was a most glorious way, I think, to celebrate her and her significant part in the Democratic victory.

Not so for the Republicans, who were not at all inclined to send Nancy Pelosi roses. Instead they were promoting a viral video of her face, surrounded by flames, with the caption "Fire Nancy Pelosi." If this were the Middle Ages, they'd be burning her flat out at the stake. Since this is 2010, however, stuff like that happens mostly on line. Mostly, but not entirely. While votes for the bill were being counted, a few Congressional Republicans stood outside on the balcony overlooking the mall, holding letters that spelled out "Kill The Bill," egging on the hecklers and Tea Party protestors down below.

Afterwards, as Congressmen were leaving the building, protesters called John Lewis a "nigger." They called Barney Frank a "faggot." They spat on Emanuel Cleaver and Rep. Randy Neugebauer called Bart Stupak a "baby killer," because he had offered up the defining "yes" vote for the bill. "Let's beat the other side to a pulp!" Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, shouted to the last of the Tea Partiers on Sunday night. "Let's chase them down! There's going to be a reckoning." These are not just isolated "fringe" elements carrying on in this manner, as is often reported. They are hard-core Republican Congressmen, who have incorporated themselves into the Tea Party movement.

Later, protestors placed a coffin on Russ Carnahan's lawn. They sent faxes of nooses to Jim Clyburn. In my state, someone tried to cut the propane gas line at Tom Perriello's house --but ended up cutting his brother's line by mistake, because a wrong address had been posted on a website. Meanwhile, ten Democratic members of Congress have had to get increased security and police protection because of threats.

All week long I found myself wanting to sing an old childhood song: "The bear went over the mountain." "The bear went over the mountain. The bear went over the mountain, and what do you think he saw? He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, and what do you think he did? He climbed the other mountain, etc." [repeat and repeat, ad infinitum]. Democrats just got over one huge mountain, and what do you think they saw? More willful obstruction and escalating threats. Another mountain to climb.

An apopletic John McCain has now gathered up his toys and declared that he will not play with Obama anymore: "No cooperation for the rest of the year." ("This is an adolescent living in the shell of a former statesman," wrote Timothy Egan in the New York Times.) Yesterday I heard on NPR that my state of Virginia has already refused to enact any legislation with a Federal mandate that requires the purchase of health insurance. Many other states are following suit. Since Republicans failed to make health reform Obama's "Waterloo," they will now try to make it into his "Monicagate," in a further effort to tie his presidency up in knots through millions of dollars' worth of obscene law suits and wasteful legal proceedings.

Perhaps the most interesting skirmish of the week may have gone unnoticed by anyone except diehard Washington watchers like me. It involved the sacking of David Frum, a former speechwriter of George W. Bush, and, since 2003, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Frum sealed his own fate when he wrote on his blog, FrumForum. that Republicans had suffered their own devastating Waterloo in their loss to President Obama on health reform. "It's hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster," Frum lamented. "We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat." The Institute's donors were not happy with Frum's comments. Frum was given his walking papers by AEI President Arthur Brooks.

I append a few reader responses that I found on the net to these various events:

"I have to say that I do believe all of this agitation will lead to a tragedy. I hope it's one that the nation can survive. But the Republicans seem to have decided that they will not give up the right to govern, no matter how much they lose elections. They are willing at this point to use increasingly graphic forms of intimidation. I hope the FBI is taking note." Jane Smiley

"Unfortunately the obstinacy of the Republican party is not funny or cute. It is dangerous and anti-American, however much they drape red, white and blue and a fraudulent "Christianity" over themselves. Following the ugly "tea party" prior to the vote, and the physical attacks and threats after the vote, it is clear that the Republican party is encouraging such actions.
Obama should make an address, informing these people that they live in a democracy, majority vote wins, and any incitement or actual taking of violence will be dealt with by the law - whether coming from the mouths of Limbaugh, Beck or a foaming tea-partier on the street. If nothing is done we can anticipate shortly assassinations and jack-boots.
Not so funny." Jon Jost Seoul, Korea

"When is the story ever going to be about the total obstruction of the Republicans? They apparently care nothing about the people of this country. Of course, since they don't believe in government, they don't care if it works. I will never understand why we elect people to Congress who do not believe in government. This makes no sense." Elin Carrington, ND

In case you are wondering why I write about these matters so obsessively, it is because one day, when the bear climbs over the mountain, it may find, not another mountain, but something truly monstrous. People will wonder how this could possibly have happened in our country? At which point the story, the one that hasn't happened yet, will have already been chronicalled here.

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