Today, after a flurry of media questions about the identity of the shouter, GOP Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer stepped forward as the offending shouter—though he stipulated he actually shouted, "It's a baby killer," in reference to the unamended health care bill, and has since apologized to Stupak for any suggestion that he personally was responsible for the killing of babies.
Again apologize for the inattention to the blog. I'm on a deadline and up against it at the moment.
But I do want to point out some interesting aspects to this health care story.
Only in America could we have a situation in which the GOP punts away a political opportunity by having a some Texas congressman shout "Baby Killer!" during a debate — and then the Democrats fumble that punt by celebrating the Republican-ness of the historic bill they just passed.
As she inched toward the triumphant win, Nancy Pelosi issued a fact sheet about the bill that cheerfully quoted an E.J. Dionne editorial. The passage:
An op-ed by E.J. Dionne on Friday reveals that the current health reform legislation pending before Congress was "built on a series of principles that Republicans espoused for years."
The electoral-politics aspect of what just happened with health care is a bit strange. It seems to me that the Republicans capitulated entirely to Tea Party sentiment, a move that sets them up for a Sarah Palin candidacy in 2012, which in turn is a move that sets them up for a crushing general-election defeat. Meanwhile the Democrats spent the health care debate fleeing from their own base, a move that… well, I don't know what it means, exactly, but it does make me a little ill. The whole picture is strange: Democrats running as Republicans, Republicans running as Turner-Diaries conspiracy theorists.
I don't get what the Republicans have to gain by painting themselves as hysterical survivalist Ruby-Ridge loonies (Kentucky congressman Geoff Davis pulling out the "Don't Tread on Me" flag was a move more larded with mawkish over-drama than your average drag-queen tribute to Edith Piaf). It feels to me like they played this one wrong.
It doesn't matter, though. Should I decide to change my politics and become a conservative now that I'm exactly the middle-aged bourgeois/suburban tool I used to rail against, I can always vote Republican by voting Democratic. The new Democratic Party is an excellent substitute for the old Nixon/Ford Republican Party. They even passed Nixon's vision of a health care plan. That there's no Democratic Party left is a shame, but I guess one choice is better than none.