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The Suicide Bomber

Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez manages to hit nearly every teabagger stereotype of President Obama in this cartoon published yesterday in Investor's Business Daily.

Unlike the New Yorker cover that at least (unsuccessfully) attempted irony, this editorial cartoon manages to capitalize on right wing fears of Obama being a secret Muslim, the Liz Cheney/Bill Kristol spurious insinuation of al-Qaeda infiltration of the Administration, and the McCain campaign depiction of Obama fancying himself as a deity. Throw in a dash of GOP talking point concern trolling that "Obamacare" will doom Democrats' chances in November and voilà! Teabag manna from heaven.

Even if you grant the most benign meaning to this cartoon, that health care reform represents a death knell to the Democratic Party, polling data refutes this GOP alternate reality. Obama pollster Joel Benenson debunks the electoral death wish meme in the Washington Post today.

In fact, two recent polls, including one with the most negative ratings on health care, reveal through follow-up questions that a significant number of people who oppose current plans do so because they don't go far enough rather than because they go too far. Not only is it absurd to suggest that these people would rise up against Democrats for passing the president's plan, it is far more likely that they would join others who support the plan and punish those who tried to block reform or voted against it.

In politics, new information is always the most potent. When it comes to health care and insurance, once reform passes, the tangible benefits Americans will realize will trump the fear-mongering rhetoric opponents are stoking today.

And when that reality kicks in, the political burden will shift from those who supported the plan to those who voted against banning insurance companies from denying coverage to those who are sick, against the tax credits for small businesses offering coverage, or against helping seniors on Medicare pay less for prescription drugs.

It is no accident that Republican leaders are warning Democrats of dire political consequences if health reform passes.

But there is every reason to believe that for Republicans, the negative consequences will be their own.

(You can read the memo that is the basis for this Benenson's piece here (PDF))

The Ramirez cartoon is emblematic of shallowness of current GOP ideology. They evoke fear for the opposition to any Democratic proposal absent any true Republican alternative. And the more dramatic the fear response, the more media play the GOP gets for its opposition, and the less questioning the GOP gets for any meaningful alternative.

Originally posted to D Wreck on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 11:27 AM PST.

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