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Tilting at Windmills

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November 2, 2009

ORRIN HATCH SLIPS INTO CONSPIRATORIAL MODE.... The year has not been kind to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah. The 75-year-old conservative has repeatedly been confused and cantankerous in recent months, repeating obvious falsehoods after being confronted with facts, and recently threatening to kick progressive activists "in the teeth."

This morning, Hatch went so far as to suggest health care reform, if it becomes law, threatens the existence of our two-party political system.

Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes is a "step by step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,'" Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com.

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

That claim led Hatch to suggest that some Democrats are "diabolical" in their pursuit of health reform.

Now, if this were just some strange rant from Glenn Beck, it'd be easier to dismiss it as random, unhinged nonsense. But Hatch is a senator, and has been in the chamber for more than three decades. For him to slip into this bizarre conspiratorial mode on national television is kind of sad.

I'm trying to make sense of Hatch's twisted argument here, and I'm afraid I can't make heads or tails of it. If consumers have a choice between public and private health plans, Americans will become dependent on the Democratic Party? This is an elaborate, "diabolical" scheme, not to fix a broken system with a modest plan that's incorporated Republican ideas, but to exert partisan control?

These are not the concerns of a well-adjusted lawmaker.

Presumably, this strange panic about "socialized medicine" relates in some way to the public option, but let's not forget, as recently as September, Hatch suggested he'd oppose health care reform whether the provision is in the bill or not.

As recently as July, Orrin Hatch was one of only four Republicans taking the lead in bipartisan negotiations on health care policy. Scary thought.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

Maybe if both the house and senate weren't filled with so many ancient men, we'd be better off.

Posted by: Kevin Ray on November 2, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's called: "Better Policy." More Senators should try it.

Posted by: Cazart on November 2, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think what he's trying to say is he is trying to place the blame for the implosion of the GOP on health care reform, and that if Democrats pass reform it will crush Republicans out of existence. And this is all about partisan politics, not policy.

Posted by: Rian Mueller on November 2, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Of course people will be dependant on the Democrats if we have a public option. Whenever Republicans are in power, they'll be trying to cut or cripple the program. What else is new?

Posted by: J Bean on November 2, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's called Dementia and it is very sad to see anyone suffering from it. Fortunately, he has a good health care and disability policy. Hopefully he or his family will soon realize the problem and suggest he retire.

Posted by: jm on November 2, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's called Projection.

All we heard in the beginning of this decade as Republicans gained control of the WH and both houses of congress was how they were working for a "Permenant Majority". Republicans forever!

Now, they are projecting this desire they have had so near and dear to their hearts on their mortal enemies.

Sad, really.

Posted by: victory on November 2, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democrats aren't playing fair. They want to give voters what they want and need. Damn their conspiratorial souls to hell all of them, along with that cloud out there." Orrin Hatch

Maybe, just maybe, if the Republicans gave a shit about anybody other than their wacko base, they would be doing better in the polls. Maybe if they actually competed with the Democrats to see which party could propose better policy for all Americans, not just their rich friends, we would all be better off.

We need real competition from our polical parties.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 2, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

i believe what he means is this: a bedrock right-wing belief for some 70 years now has been that social security was a plot by the democrats to capture the votes of seniors, and without it, no one would ever have voted democratic.

and now he's suggesting that health-care access reform will have the same outcome, that the public will, in effect, be "bribed" by a government goody set up by the democrats and be unable to resist the temptation to pull the D lever.

Posted by: howard on November 2, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

He's absolutely right. Democrats are trying to pass bills (the healthcare bill is just one of them) that improves the lives of ordinary Americans, and making them more likely to vote Democratic in the future. That is diabolical.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on November 2, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's just an expansion on the William Kristol meme regarding the Clinton attempt at health care reform: that if it passes, the Democrats will get the credit and "will be a majority for a generation." Basically, they are looking back at history regarding Social Security and Medicare. People *like* these programs. They're popular and they work. And while they were passed with moderate Republican support, they were passed over the howls and protests of the right-wing Republicans.

Hatch is just expanding this fear and paranoia to new limits.

Posted by: PaulB on November 2, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers said:
Maybe, just maybe, if the Republicans gave a shit about anybody other than their wacko base, they would be doing better in the polls.

Actually, the Republicans don't give a shit about their wacko base either -- at least as far as making the wacko's lives more prosperous, safer and healthier. All the Republicans want to do is convince their wacko base that the librul, commie, illegial-alien loving Democrats are going to take away their guns and give their jobs to ACORN.


Posted by: SteveT on November 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Some of us remember little Billy Kristol telling Republicans way back in 1993 that if Democrats got health care reform passed, it would spell electoral disaster for Republicans for a generation. Kristol acknowledged that reform was desperately needed and that the long-term fiscal health of the United States depended on it. However, it would be bad for Republicans if Democrats succeeded, so the GOP needed to scuttle it.

Hatch is simply singing from the same page. He and every other GOP apparatchik knows that a public option or single-payer plan will end up being as popular as Social Security and Medicare combined. And thus would doom GOP chances at the ballot box for a generation or more.

When the GOP is faced with a choice between helping America and helping themselves, America loses every time.

Posted by: Domage on November 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

And Joe (you lie) Wilson is ranting on about the lack of flu vaccine being Obama's fault. This after he and 95% of repubs voted against funding for the flu vaccine.

Posted by: JS on November 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I heard several times over the years that Teddy Kennedy and Orrin Hatch were great friends off the floor of the Senate. It sounded odd then and it still does....

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on November 2, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

You quote: Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes is a "step by step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

Hatch is actually grossly understating the consequences. Here's Rush Limbaugh from yesterday: "This is not about insuring the uninsured. This is not about health care. This is about stealing one-sixth of the U.S. private sector and putting it under the control of federal government. And when they get this health-care bill, if they do, that's the easiest, fastest way for them to be able to regulate every aspect of human behavior, because it'll all have some related cost to health care -- what you drive, what you eat, where you live, what you do. And there'll be penalties for violating regulations. It's going to be the biggest snatch of freedom and liberty that has yet occurred in this country."

Here's the question for Orrin Hatch: Why is he so oblivious to the danger facing this country?

But no one should be worried. Joe Lieberman, going against everything he has previously supported and opposing for Americans what every citizen of Israel enjoys, will save us from this disaster.

You may now return to regularly scheduled reality.

Posted by: CMcC on November 2, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Small problem: he's right.

Not that this is the agenda, but that this is inevitably the effect. It's why conservatives are terrified of HCR, because they know that a universal coverage system with a strong government run element - even the pathetic "Public option" - will result in people picking parties on the basis of which they believe will better run a healthcare system. And they're going to pick the Democrats. They're not going to trust Republicans to run their HMO.

Why you're portraying Hatch as somehow one stethoscope short of a Doctor on this issue is anyone's guess.

Posted by: squiggleslash on November 2, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's not quite as crazy as you make it out to be. Successful healthcare reform really could lead to long-term Democratic dominance. As Ron Byers notes, though, that's not because Democrats are eee-villl; it's because Republicans are offering nothing of their own.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on November 2, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders if the occasional sense and humanity he showed was a reflection of his close friendship with Ted Kennedy, and without his influence the more doctrinaire -- and both brainless and inhumane -- side is unrestrained.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on November 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hatch is right; if the Democrats actually managed to pass legislation that improved the lives of most Americans, they would become very popular and put the Republicans out of business. The good thing for Hatch and his colleagues is that the Democrats seem unwilling to do that.

Posted by: qwerty on November 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Hatch is making perfect sense: let's say that the Democrats manage to fix health care, and that the voters give them credit for it. The reward might be Democratic Party domination for the next decade or two. For a fiercely competitive politician, that's a serious threat.

The only strange thing is how open he's being about it. But the "good news" for threatened Republicans is that whatever bill it is that passes is going to be too weak to fix the system.

Posted by: Joe Buck on November 2, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

It sounds more to me like Hatch is stating the obvious: Republicans will be forced to run on a platform of rolling back health care reforms, passed without any of the republican votes. So voters will realize that voting for democrats is the only safe bet if they want to keep their benefits.

It will be the next one-issue campaign. Why shouldn't Hatch be upset about that? He's right.

Posted by: tomj on November 2, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

and if you'd been around as long as i have, you'd know that orrin hatch was delivering diabolical rants
(or what then were diabolical -- in this age of nihilism, woo-whee)

back when this fellow glenn beck was still fouling his diapers over various infantile fears...

Posted by: neill on November 2, 2009 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

My God. They really don't care if we are out here dying do they.

I'm starting to think Senators are not humans.

Posted by: Trinity on November 2, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

jm is right, imo - this is the fragility of age on display. The seeds of bitterness tend to grow, not shrink with time.

Until such time as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future haunt the House and Senate on a regular basis, mandatory retirement at age 70 would free us of Scrooge and many of his counterparts. Some good people would be lost, but the way would open for the young, the middle aged, minorities and women.

Posted by: FC on November 2, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm generally not a big fan of the catholic church, but one thing they've got right is the fact that cardinals over a certain age (80, I think) are not allowed to participate in conclaves to elect the next pope.

Of course, try the in the US Senate and you'd run into age discrimination laws...

Posted by: mfw13 on November 2, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The simple explanation is that Hatch has descended into.....madness.

Posted by: Judith Martinez on November 2, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

alas, neill, the passage of time changes nothing. borin orrin is still delivering diabolical rants, and glenn beck is still fouling his diapers.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 2, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't read the comments above yet, but the conservatives fought against Medicare back in 1964/65 as well, calling it a "socialist" program and the end of our freedom as well. Someone should really ask Sen. Hatch if Medicare ended the two-party system?

Posted by: winddancer on November 2, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

What he calls "dependence" normal people call "recognizing which party values their lives, health and well-being and voting accordingly."

Posted by: shortstop on November 2, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Putting on our Republican Party Newspeak De-coder rings, we can see that what Hatch really said was: "If health care reform passes then the Democratic Party will have shown that it is the faithful steward of the public trust and can deliver on the strong message the public has sent on health care reform as expressed in both two landslide wins for Democrats in national elections and in numerous opinions surveys since then showing overwhelming support for a public option. If the Democrats pass health care reform this will confirm the public's faith in our democratic system of government. And that is simply intolerable and cannot stand."

Posted by: Ted Frier on November 2, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

These are not the concerns of a well-adjusted lawmaker.

Hatch is not only not "well adjusted" he's also likely experiencing senility-induced demetia. There needs to be an age limit on how long these buffoons can serve.

Posted by: electrolite on November 2, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Typical reaction when authoritarians lose power. Hitler,Nixon...

Posted by: par4 on November 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hatch's concern seems to be that when there is Health Care Reform out there, most people will start to realize that, no matter how corrupt our political system is, one party stands for helping the common man in an effort win votes, while the other party stands for helping corporate America in an effort to win campaign contributions in order to influence opinion and steal elections.

Boo Hoo

Posted by: majun on November 2, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

And yet Obama is falling all over himself to give Hatch and his cronies a chance to sign on to reform. Can't win for trying, I guess.

Only in America could a politician make the argument that it was somehow unfair for another party to represent the wishes of the citizenry without being laughed out of town.

Posted by: doubtful on November 2, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

True or false: the senate health care bill covers senior moments.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 2, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

So.... Democrats will propose policies that people will like so much they won't vote for Republicans?

Is this seriously his argument?

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on November 2, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Orrin's ranting was actually logical if you think about it. He is concerned that if a health care bill passes with a non-crippled public option that it will lead to the public having the same kind of massive identification with the Dem's and/or their policies that happened as a result of the New Deal.

He can't go out and say "We cannot allow this to pass because it would cripple our party." Oddly enough, that would probably be even worse for the Republicans to say than the bullshit they are saying now.

Posted by: OmerosPeanut on November 2, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Senile.

Posted by: Trollop says: on November 2, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

"These are not the concerns of a well-adjusted lawmaker".

There is no such animal in the ranks of congressional republicans.

Posted by: JW on November 2, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

The best argument to this line (which will become the Republican/Blue Dog mantra): "If they claim to be protecting private company competition in the health insurance marketplace, they are biting off their noses to spite temselves. The surest way to single-payer, such as 'Medicare-for-All' which is already not terribly far from critical mass of public support, is to defeat the current bills."

In the end, no Democrat should ever be in the position of forcing people -- especially those who have lost their jobs or otherwise have been unable to buy or afford health insurance -- to buy insurance only from for-profit companies.

Any legislator worthy of the title and any respect is absolutely obligated to allow for the lowest-cost policies possible for such people. That must be the opportunity to buy from a public, non-profit entity with no other purpose whatsoever -- such as maximizing profits -- than insuring people against unexpected medical costs. Only the Federal government with the maximum pool possible can assure the lowest-cost possible from a non-profit entity.

Posted by: urban legend on November 2, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no, if democrats are successful and bring the American public much needed reform as popular as Medicare and Social Security it will make them too popular. People will only want to vote for democrats because they keep making life easier for them and we won't be able to continue pushing our corporatocracy and profiteering off the tax dollar. Republicans will be finished!

DUH!

Posted by: bjobotts on November 2, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"...Hatch is simply singing from the same page. He and every other GOP apparatchik knows that a public option or single-payer plan will end up being as popular as Social Security and Medicare combined. And thus would doom GOP chances at the ballot box for a generation or more..."
Posted by: Domage on November 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The last 8yrs alone should have been enough to doom the republican party for decades to come. Murder and torture everywhere with a spiking deficit and an economic disaster equaling the 1st republican great depression. "I'm the decider" and he was and it will take 30yrs to de-Bushify the government and rid ourselves of repub policies.

Loss of memory is the only reason to justify even thinking of voting for a republican.

btw...I don't want 80yr/olds deciding legislature for the country. 75y/o are bad enough...they don't have the energy or enthusiasm for such a big job.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 2, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

He actually said Democratic Party? It's so rare to hear that instead of Democrat Party, I did a double take.

Posted by: emd on November 2, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,'"

And your point is?

Posted by: Marnie on November 2, 2009 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that Hatch is spout the absolute complete truth, but the Democrats, lead by a bunch of Senators (D-Insurance Industry) are going to make health care reform nothing but a massive money grab by the same health care industry that made this mess.

It's hard to say who's worse, the guy that wants to stop them because it would be a smart, sensible and GOOD thing to do for America, or the guy that's sliding a knife in your ribs while he tells you sweet lies about all the GOOD he's doing for you.

Posted by: Glen on November 2, 2009 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Good morning. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is. Help me! I can not find sites on the: Kitco gold stock market prices. I found only this - stock market prices walmart. Stock market prices, the advisable venture is that effect suggests a able interbank faster. Stock market prices, the oil trading is a online prohibition. :-( Thanks in advance. Ivy from Islands.

Posted by: Ivy on March 19, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
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