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If ObamaCare wins, Obama loses

By Michael M. Bates
web posted August 24, 2009

"It's like déjà vu all over again," noted philosopher Yogi Berra is credited with saying.  And so it is.

A liberal Democratic president has his heart set on pushing through a proposal strongly unpopular with most Americans.  Enjoying substantial Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, he intends to win.

Jimmy CarterSo it was in September, 1977 when Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal treaties to relinquish United States control.  An Associated Press opinion poll conducted that month found that only 29 percent of Americans favored the pact.  A solid 50 percent opposed it and 21 percent expressed no opinion.

Just as Barack Obama is determined to shove a government health care program down the throats of his protesting countrymen, Carter did what was necessary to get the Senate to ratify the Panama Canal treaties.  He cajoled, he promised, he threatened.  It worked.

Carter was understandably jubilant when in early 1978 he received one vote more than the 67 necessary to approve the first of the two treaties.  He hailed it as "a victory for the American people."  That may sound vaguely familiar.  It's how Barack Obama described his own 2008 election.

In a 1991 interview, Jimmy Carter talked about his triumph:

"I never go through a week of my life now that I don't get letters from people condemning the Panama Canal Treaties.  Still, and this is I don't know how many years later.  1978?  Thirteen years later.  But it was a good thing to do."

He went on to describe the aftermath:

"It is the most courageous thing that the U.S. Senate ever did in its existence.  They knew that it was politically unpopular, but they knew that it was right and needed.  Of the 20 senators who voted for the Canal Treaties in 1978, who were up for re-election the next year, only seven of them came back.  Thirteen of them didn't come back.  And the attrition rate in 1980 was almost as bad."

The Boston Globe reported in February, 1981 that "the new Senate that took office this year sees the absence, by retirement or defeat, of 28 senators who supported the treaties."  In only three years, 28 of the 68 senators who did what Carter deemed "right and needed" and what the public opposed were gone.

As was Carter.  He was such a dismal failure in so many ways, it's impossible to attribute his defeat to any one action or event.  Jimmy had pummeled President Jerry Ford over the "misery index," a combination of the inflation and unemployment rates.  Four years of Carter resulted in the index shooting up from 13% to more than 20%.  By itself, inflation stood at 13.58% in Carter's last year in office.

Yet another factor had to have been Carter's successful effort to turn the Panama Canal over to a leftist dictator carrying the title of "Maximum Leader of the Panamanian Revolution."  Americans didn't want that to happen, but a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress didn't care.

Which brings us to now.  Another Democratic president and another Democratic Congress don't care that Americans oppose a government health care system disguised as reform.

With their elitist mentality, they genuinely believe they know better than we do what's best for us.  If it takes hiding from constituents, fine.  If it takes lying about what their plans entail, OK.  If it takes cajoling, promising, threatening, it's just part of doing what they've decided is right and needed.

If the president succeeds in imposing ObamaCare, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.  All those Americans held in such contempt by the liberal establishment will be at the polls next year and in 2012.  They'll remember how they were disrespected and ignored.  And Obama & Co. will have no one to blame but themselves for ignoring a lesson of the Carter years. ESR

Michael M. Bates is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right. His web site can be found at http://www.michaelmbates.com/.


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