Democrats in Congress - if you think distancing yourselves from health care reform is going to save your seats, think again. You are already toast.
There is nothing left for you now but to vote for the best reform possible, then take your place in history. Capitulation to the Republican MINORITY is not going to save your careers. But you can still save your honor.
Below the fold, I'll offer some supporting quotes from an excellent timeline of the Clinton health care reform effort.
The Republican Party strategy today is nearly identical to that used with great success in the 1990's. And that strategy does not include you keeping your jobs, Democrats in Congress.
The gory history of the Clinton era health care reform effort is aptly summarized here.
The GOP strategy is unchanged, right down to the managed protests:
July 22, 1994 - Trying to win back the kind of political support that brought them to the White House, the administration plans a bus trek across America to generate their own grassroots message to Congress for reform. A kickoff rally in Portland, Oregon, is marred by anti-Clinton protesters. When the first buses reach the highway they find a broken-down bus wreathed in red tape symbolizing government bureaucracy and hitched to a tow truck labeled, "This is Clinton Health Care." The anti-bus trek protests are the crowning success of the No Name Coalition and especially of the conservative political interest group Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). By the time the ill-fated bus caravan takes to the highways, CSE operatives, working closely -- and secretly -- with Newt Gingrich's Capitol Hill office and with Republican senators, have mapped out plans to derail the Reform Riders wherever they go.
Democrats in Congress thought that deserting Clinton would save their seats:
Late August 1994 - Democrats begin preparing for the November elections by distancing themselves from their President -- and from the reform he has attempted.
The GOP seized on the mere attempt to discuss reform as a means to take control of Congress:
September 19, 1994 - The New York Times reports remarks -- never subsequently denied -- that Bob Packwood made to his Republican senatorial colleagues during closed-door strategy sessions while he was managing the Republican attack during the summer. "We've killed health care reform," Packwood told his fellow Republican senators. "Now we've got to make sure our fingerprints are not on it." For many this is the "smoking gun": proof of a carefully plotted, and secret, Republican strategy.
Congress reconvenes. Mitchell hopes to set aside four days for Senate debate on the new Mainstream bill and then schedule a straight up-or-down vote. Republicans begin mobilizing for a filibuster to keep the bill from reaching the floor. Supporters realize they don't have enough votes to break the filibuster.
With both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats, there was never even a vote on health care:
September 26, 1994 - At a news conference in the Capitol, George Mitchell pulls the plug on health care reform.
In the end, did it help for the Democrats to act like weasels? No.
November 8, 1994 - Voters deliver a massive repudiation of President Clinton, break the forty-year hold of Democrats on Congress, restore Republicans to power at ever level of government, and set the stage for a further test over the nation's ideological future in 1996. In two years the Democrats have gone from a controlling majority 258 seats in the House of Representatives to a minority of 204. In all the contests House, Senate, and gubernatorial seats, not a single Republican seeking reelection loses.
So here is the deal. This is a republic. I worked last year to get you elected. That WAS the debate. Now do your job. While you still have it.
Who knows, the voters in your district might even end up being glad they put you in Congress. In the words of Judy Tenuta:
It could haaapen.