Sometimes, Losing an Election Can Be Liberating

It seems to be having that effect for Republicans Bob Bennett and Bob Inglis (Utah and South Carolina, respectively), who both lost primaries in June to more hard right candidates. Both are viewed as having been punished by GOP voters for, basically, not being extreme enough. These are the Congress critters that Sen. Jim DeMint had in mind when he said that “… Supposedly, after we all pledge to a limited government, we can work together and debate how to do that….”

Inglis and Bennett, among a few others, were too willing to work with Democrats who did not endorse Republicans’ preferred policy solutions ahead of time, and too critical of politicians or media pundits who engaged in divisive ideological rhetoric. They paid the price at the voting booth, but now that reelection pressures are gone, some — most notably Bob Inglis — are being more pointed in their public remarks about the damage Republican orthodoxy is doing to the party and to the polity in general:

Inglis expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy; he urged his constituents not to take Glenn Beck too seriously; and he said his main focus as a lawmaker was to find “solutions” to problems. Last year, Inglis said the Republican Party has a chance “to understand we are all in need of some grace.” The result: GOP voters turned on him.Inglis talked to the Associated Press this week, and lamented the fact that Republican leaders are created a toxic political environment. He was especially disappointed by the health care debate — Inglis strongly opposed the Democratic proposal, but was disappointed by his own allies’ rhetoric.

“There were no death panels in the bill … and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It’s not leadership. It’s demagoguery,” said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you’re “preying on their fears” and turn away.

“I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading,” he said. “What it takes to lead is to say, ‘You know, that’s just not right.'”

Inglis added that in the South, some of the right’s hatred of President Obama is driven by racism.

Inglis’s criticism is particularly notable given his own political beliefs: He is “a bona fide conservative who took office in the GOP revolution of 1994 and helped lead the impeachment of Bill Clinton. …”

The “death panel” canard is being resurrected now as a way to attack Pres. Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

On the right wing radio show of Chris Edwards, Bachmann jumped on the death panels bandwagon yet again. According to ThinkProgress, the conversation went like this:

BACHMANN: He’s the one now who will be in charge of implementing full-scale Obamacare and he’ll be in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.BAKER: Oh boy. That’s why I’m now referring to him as the chairman of the Obamacare death panel.

BACHMANN: That’s right.

BAKER: That’s my title.

BACHMANN: That’s right because this is his quote, and I have it right in front of me. He said, “the decision is not, whether or not we will ration health care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” Well, it’s with his eyes open. Because he’s going to be the one who is denying people care.

And on that slim reed hangs the “death panel” claim. Ezra Klein puts it well (h/t Matt Corley):

… Only in our highly charged political discourse is this anything but a bland statement of fact. Compare it to Paul Ryan’s comment to me: “Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it?” And Berwick was always clear that the patient’s will should come first: “On the whole, I prefer that we take the risk of overuse along with the burden of giving real meaning to the phrase ‘a fully informed patient,'” he told Health Affairs last year.

Once upon a time, Republicans like Bachmann and Palin were more the exception than the rule:

… but not in the age of Palinsanity and Beckamania. Inglis, a 12 year incumbent, was soundly defeated in his primary by the tea party purgers who follow those pied pipers of wilful ignorance and self-destructive delusion.

Now the GOP belongs to idiots like Tennesee Sen. Bob Corker who is demanding that President Obama and the Democrats pledge to do nothing until Republicans are back in power.


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