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.
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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.