Let's Not Forget That There Are Republicans to Hate, Too:
If the Rude Pundit was in some Karl Rove-like capacity advising the White House, he would right now be telling President Obama to have the Justice Department start investigating the crimes of the Bush administration, with an eye to prosecutions beginning sometime in 2010. Because amidst our vastly justified Lieberman-hating and Obama-doubting and with rending ourselves asunder on the left, we cannot forget that one of the major reasons that we are at this point in the health care reform debate, with a bill that seems to do as much harm as good (and that's the generous take), is that Republicans simply refused to engage in the process (beyond begging Olympia Snowe for her vote). It was far more entertaining for them to watch the Democrats eat their tail.
During the 2004 negotiations over the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, Democrats were engaged every step of the way. They had the votes to simply filibuster and kill it. But they didn't. Hell, it was Ted Kennedy who got 35 Democrats to vote for the bill because "he insisted that once prescription drug coverage was a reality, a future Congress could extend and improve it." How's that working out? Kennedy also thought that it could be fixed in conference committee, not realizing that behind closed doors, Republicans would eventually dick him over, aided and abetted by Big Pharma's own Democrats, Max Baucus and John Breaux. But Democrats never just disengaged, as Republicans almost unanimously did on this process.
To indulge in disgusted crowing for a moment, here's what the Rude Pundit wrote back in February, back in the days of new and shiny hope, in calling for the Obama administration to have inquiries into the Iraq War, among other things: "[T]here's gotta be consequences for people's actions or there's gonna be chaos...when the Obama administration was sending out signals that it would be willing to forgo serious inquiries into who-authorized-what as it relates to the various -gates from the previous administration, that was an olive branch to Republicans, a way of saying, 'You give us some shit we need, we won't spank you for being accomplices to crimes' (by the way, Democrats don't get away clean on this). It was, in terms of the DC circle jerk of power, a pretty fuckin' big concession. Republicans took that olive branch, broke it, shit on it, and flung it back at the White House."
See, the Rude Pundit believed then, and still believes now, that it would force Republicans to have to choose whether or not to back the Bush administration. Because as angry as people are with Obama, that pales in comparison to how much they continue to loathe Bush and Cheney. If you think shit's bad now, wait until Summer 2010. The country's gonna be ripped apart because Republicans will taste blood. You wanna unify the people who think the Tea Party screamers are crazy? Remind them of why we're so fucked in the first place.
And that's the point. Right now, the public hasn't been told to blame anyone, so they're going to blame the people in power. If not, the greatest failure of the Obama administration will end up being in not pursuing prosecutions of Bush administration officials and Wall Street executives. What the White House will have sown its own doom with the public because, at the end of the day, it says that no one is accountable for what has happened to the economy and, indeed, our national soul. Go after Bush and company and you say, "You can't destroy the country and just get to go on with your lives." And point out that many of the Republicans now opposing this President were willing accomplices to the previous one. Fuck, Republicans leap any time an Obama official mentions Bush, talking about the "blame game." Well, you know, if someone burned down your house and you happen to mention the arsonist who lit the match, as you try to rebuild from the ashes, it seems kind of justified.
This doesn't solve the problem with the health care reform bill and with the Democrats. The Rude Pundit remains agnostic at this point, thinking, as Katrina Vanden Heuvel said on Morning Starbucks with Joe today, that it might be best to let the thing go to conference and keep pressure on (although his gut says kill the bill).
And, indeed, if the Rude Pundit were in a Karl Rove-like position, he would be dropping quotes for Barack Obama to read - a little less Gandhi, a little more Machiavelli; a little less Martin Luther King, a little more Malcolm X.