In the declining glossy-paper pages of Time magazine, columnist Joe Klein suggests that our national character and the passage of socialist health care expansion are inherently linked. (Insert here: every time Anonymous Joe makes claims to "character," remind everyone of how he lied for months about his authorship of Primary Colors.)
Near the end of the piece, he decried "demented" speakers at town hall meetings, and engaged in wishful thinking:
The Republicans could well find that their recalcitrance and ugly misinformation are a millstone in the next election.
But it is also possible that the Limbaugh- and Glenn Beck–inspired poison will spread from right-wing nutters to moderates and independents who are a necessary component of Obama's governing coalition.
According to the polls, Obama has lost 20 points among independents in recent months. It would be a good thing if the President's speech turns the tide, and the remainder of this historic debate is conducted on higher ground, but I'm not sure that it will. As the man [Obama] said, it is a test of our national character ... in more ways than one.
Perhaps the passage where Klein caused the most (unintended) humor was his line suggested it was fatuous to think the president surrounded himself with socialists and communists, except for that Van Jones guy, who was foolishly obvious about it:
Indeed, as the meeting continued and the tone disintegrated, it became apparent that a majority of the audience thought the President of the United States was some sort of subversive, surrounding himself with czars and self-declared communists (like Van Jones, the now departed environmental aide who once, in a foolish fit of pique, did declare himself a red).
Klein's notion that socialism = national character came directly from President Obama's speech to Congress. Klein gushed that "he proceeded to lay out the elements of health-care reform that he considers essential. He did this clearly, concisely, using language that was mostly jargon-free — a triumph of speechwriting on this mind-numbing issue."
But Klein also liked that it smashed conservatives in the mouth:
It was also a fighting speech. Obama called the talk of death panels, started by the disgraceful Sarah Palin, "a lie, plain and simple," which drew explosive applause from the Democratic side of the aisle. He promised to "call out" those who told lies about the plan, a powerful threat when it comes from the President.
Finally, it was a moving speech that addressed an aspect of health-care reform that is often forgotten — the moral responsibility that we have toward our fellow citizens — by reminding the Congress of who Ted Kennedy was and why this was so important to him. The President made health-care reform a national-character issue, which is precisely what it is.
It's mind-boggling that liberal pundits (ahem, Mark Shields) would love the "fighting speech" and then still shamelessly claimed it was an attempt at bipartisanship.