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By Tom Cushing

Playing Games

Uploaded: Oct 7, 2013

We have a few days left before the end of the world as we know it, so why not play a game? It'll be alMOST as much fun as being in the Congress. See if you can match the apocalyptic quotation with the speaker. Here we go:

1 -- "This bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants."

2 -- (The legislation) "will lead to deteriorating service. Washington bureaucrats will invade the privacy of the examination room. We are on the road to rationed care and that patients will lose the freedom to choose their own doctor."

3 -- "If (we) don't stop this legislation, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was like in America when men were free."

4 -- "?why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts and ration(s) of cigarettes and beer?"

5 -- "This is one of many attempts to Sovietize America."

a. Ted Cruz
b. John Boehner
c. Michelle Bachmann
d. Sarah Palin
e. Pat Robertson.

All done? Here's the thing: the first and last quotes were from Republican opponents of the original Social Security bill, in 1935 (James Wadsworth, Silas Hardy Strawn). The middle quotes were taken from the Medicare debates of the 1960s (Wall Street Journal, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater). Sorry. But in each case, the question might be asked of each GOP speaker: how'd all that doomsday rhetoric work out for you?

It's important to keep that hyperbole in mind when considering the immensely better financed, developed, focus group-tested, rehearsed and delivered lines of the current merry little band of ObamaCare opponents. A good rule of thumb is that if you hear an attractive word used prominently by more than one speaker, it's a plant by this well-planned and polished assault on the government (link).

The best current candidate: "a conversation" – how non-threatening, reasonable and collaborative does that sound? But as Mr. Gershwin taught my grand-daddy, also in the 1930s, some statements should be taken with a grain of salt, because "it ain't necessarily so." As in most things, better to focus on what folks actually DO, than on what they Say.

So, why have Republicans fought so hard, for so long, against programs that have vastly relieved old-age and disability suffering of so many fellow citizens, that work pretty well (indeed, Medicare is the only cost-based health-care in the country), and are hugely popular with just about everybody else? Why would they now spread such disinformation, and threaten to destroy the full-faith-and-credit of the entire nation in the hope of derailing one law?

Part of that answer lies in global, diametrically opposed viewpoints between conservatives and liberals about what government is, and should do. More about that later in the week. And more specifically, as Conservative columnist Ross Douthat puts it:

" ? what you're seeing motivating the House Intransigents today, what's driving their willingness to engage in probably-pointless brinkmanship, is not just anger at a specific Democratic administration, or opposition to a specific program, or disappointment over a single electoral defeat. Rather, it's a revolt against ? what many on the right see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing Answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama's first two years as well."

"? This time, no matter the risks and costs and polls, there are small-government conservatives who intend to dare — because only through a kind of wild daring, they believe, can the long-term, post-New Deal disadvantage that the cause of limited government labors under finally be overcome."

So it's a last stand against a law that Must be opposed, not because it's unpopular, but because, like its predecessors in the '30s and '60s, it will be embraced and built-upon, once it is implemented and understood. It's apparently a war they see as holy, and with a zealot's blind spot, one that they think they can either win, or accept martyrdom.

Unfortunately, we are All in this boat together, they are imperiling All of us, and I, for one have no desire to play That game. As Douthat concludes: "If this attitude sounds more like a foolish romanticism than a prudent, responsible, grounded-in-reality conservatism — well, yes, unfortunately I think it pretty clearly is."

Synopsis: GOP doomsayers inveighed against Social Security in the 1930s, Medicare in the '60s and now ObamaCare. The tiny House minority that is steering the ship-of-state of-all-of-us toward Niagara sees this as a do-or-die mission to reverse 80 years of progressive government. Unless you want that, GOP moderates, you'd better tell them, soon. They won't discover it on their own.