E.J. Dionne is a dangerous man because he is a smart and sensible man who is mostly wrong most of the time. Yet he sounds so smart and sensible that folks nod their heads and pay him more money to be mostly wrong most of the time.
Here he is telling Dems this morning to suck it up, vote for the Senate bill (imperfect as it is--because it isn't "progressive" enough) and savor your victory. Come back to fight another day and get the rest of the progressive program through other policy initiatives. From a Democratic tactical standpoint, he's absolutely right. They stand ready to pass the most extensive overhaul of healthcare in two generations, along with a great expansion of government influence over everyday life--these are huge progressive goals, and they Dionne is right in urging them to accept half a loaf (though we all know it is half a loaf--of guano).
But the way he looks at the bill and the process that got it here is just plain wrong.
Just read Dionne here, telling us how the public option and the medicare buy-in were just so darn popular! And those pesky Senators who stood in the way--FOR PERSONAL GAIN (one wonders what Joe Lieberman really had to gain from all this)? Horrible! And that Senate itself--how un-democratic it is. How ridiculous that 60 votes are required to move legislation to votes (believe it or not, for decades it was 67!). Why even the requirement to get 60 votes is CONSERVATIVE, slowing and or killing legislation that so obviously has majority support (that it works equally well--and has--to slow or kill Republican legislation when the GOP was in the majority is of no consequence to Dionne)!
I listened to Public Radio on the way to the Farm on Friday--to a show broadcast out of DC called "The Diane Rehm Show" or something like that. The hostess--with an odd, stammering, perhaps post-stroke way of speaking--has a "roundup" on Fridays, with Dionne serving as the leftie in residence and this week, Ross Douthat of the New York Times as the rightie. What killed me was how Douthat let Dionne statements just pass without pointing out how ridiculous they were. Dionne got on a riff about Republican delaying tactics on the healthcare bill, especially Tom Coburn's forcing of Bernie Sanders' amendment to be read--all 700 pages plus of it--on the floor of the Senate. He was aghast--he referred to Republican tactics as "unprecedented". This is hogwash! This is not the first time in our nations history that a minority has asserted its rights in the Senate--and Dionne knows this. Additionally, Dionne continued there with the theme he reinforces in this article--that the public option and the medicare buy-in were really common-sense no brainer pieces of legislation that the Republicans are a bunch of druids for opposing and Democrats were disloyal for not getting behind. Douthat let it all pass buy--I suppose because Rehm doesn't want her show to be disagreeable. But my goodness, he could have said SOMETHING about how either a public option or a medicare buy-in would have been bad ideas.
Dionne really is dangerous--and not only because he's sensible and smart. It is because he's intellectually dishonest--he knows his history (of Democratic parliamentary stonewalling in the Senate) yet refuses to acknowledge it. And he knows that a government option is not an end unto itself for the progressive movement, but the first step to single payer.