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A Victory That Might Prove Pyrrhic

By Tunku Varadarajan, The Daily Beast - March 22, 2010

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Mark Duncan / AP Photo Obama’s health-care win was a messy perversion of democracy—one that will come back to haunt him, and his party, in the end.

So the Democrats have a health-care win in the House—a win that could prove mighty Pyrrhic. It will cost them dearly in the midterm elections; and come 2012, the remarkable man who seemed a shoo-in for a second term at the time of his first inauguration, will stand every chance of losing to any half-decent candidate the Republicans can muster. And in truth, this remarkable man, who has collapsed in stature since the day of that first, stirring inauguration, will have wrought his own eclipse.

Obama’s campaign promise of change left out the bit about its being change in which those who think they know what’s good for us pass a law that most of us oppose with a passion.

Americans have witnessed, in the last days, an ugly and extraordinary display of how the practice of democracy can so often overwhelm its theory: They saw, first, how those who claim an exalted moral stature for health-care reform made a naked attempt to dodge a basic constitutional requirement for the passing of a bill. The subversion of the Constitution was abandoned when it became clear that the Supreme Court would not put up with a law that had been “deemed” to have passed.

• More Daily Beast writers on the health-care vote.What Americans saw next was the legislative souk at its most squalid: cajoling, bribing, threatening, wheedling, all designed to bring on board those Democratic congressmen and -women whose votes were needed to attain (or surpass) the number 216, and whose “principles” were getting in the way of a “yes” vote. Hewing to principle is difficult, because it makes party whips angry, spoils dinner parties, and ends careers and friendships. So Kucinich, Stupak & Co. succumbed. To borrow a phrase from Tony Judt, the historian, writing in the latest New York Review of Books: “We… have abandoned politics to those for whom actual power is far more interesting than its metaphorical implications.”

So we’re now on the verge of a tectonic change in the way American society is regulated—a change vigorously opposed by over 55 percent of all Americans. Barack Obama did, of course, promise “change” in his presidential campaign. He just left out the bit about its being change in which those who think they know what’s good for us pass a law that most of us oppose with a passion—a passion born not merely of political opposition, but of a sense that President Obama has dealt the nation a calamitous hand.

Tunku Varadarajan is a national affairs correspondent and writer at large for The Daily Beast. He is also a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a professor at NYU’s Stern Business School. He is a former assistant managing editor at The Wall Street Journal. (Follow him on Twitter here.)

For more of The Daily Beast, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

"for us pass a law that most of us oppose with a passion" who are we? Please enlighten me. Show me where it says that 55% of Americans oppose this bill. Just because you say something doesn't make it true.

Why should a conservative say something true, godlessliberal?It's well know that reality has a liberal bias, so living in an alternate universe is much more comfortable for these guys.Beside, their lies usually work.

Nice try, fifth rate pundit.You and your party of racist homophobes have formally proven that you have nothing to offer but stale cliches, racist rhetoric, yawn-worthy fear tactics and voted to let 54,000 Americans perish a year.Average voters could care less about process nonsense. They want results. Your party of inbreds not onle failed to deliver, you lost.America likes winners.Republicans are losers.Go whine somewhere else. You're pitiful.

Um... this is what democracy tends to look like on planet Earth. Legislation is complicated and rallying your side is often messy.In Australia it looks like this all the time but in Australia, left or right, things get done after an election and more or less - srew the other side. That's what elections are for. For some reason right wingers like Mr Varadarajan seem to ignore what the Democrats ran on and won on. Strange.Anyway America, welcome to the club of industrialised nations that all have universal healthcare and have had so for most of since the end of WWII. You're slow but you got there in the end.

Um... this is what democracy tends to look like on planet Earth. Legislation is complicated and rallying your side is often messy.In Australia it looks like this all the time but in Australia, left or right, things get done after an election and more or less - srew the other side. That's what elections are for. For some reason right wingers like Mr Varadarajan seem to ignore what the Democrats ran on and won on. Strange.Anyway America, welcome to the club of industrialised nations that all have universal healthcare and have had so for most of since the end of WWII. You're slow but you got there in the end.

I think you're whistling past the conservative graveyard, Tunku.This loss is going to have draconian impacts on Republicans.

This is surprisingly weak. I was hoping for a well reasoned piece that would look at the potential political downside and this most emphatically is not that.

Really, Tunku, you can do better than this pouty drivel. Watching sausage being made may not be pretty, but at least this health care bill is food for the masses. But then corporate drones like you don't really care about the masses, huh?

On Saturday & Sunday, the Republican members of Congress exposed themselves for what they really are. A party that supports & encourages bigots, racists, liars & foul mouth men & women.The Democrats have won the support of the millions of Americans who lack health care. They won the support of pro-lifers who were not in favor of federally paid abortions. They won the support of parents who can sleep peacefully knowing their children will be covered under their health plan until the age of 26.They won the support of people who were locked out of health care due to pre-existing illness. To me, this equals a win, win for the Democrats.

Tunku Varadarajan,first let me say, the pander of veiled of cynicism of "Remarkable man" dumps your ho hum, piece in the crapper from the outset, and my good man with a name like Varadajan I doubt the 1.5 billion people - from your over populated native land of India - a land where there is still a cast system, and leprosy, a place where most of whom live in the most degrading of poverty, a place where people eat rats, are cynically referred to as "Slum dogs" - a land where there is almost no clean water system, a place so backwards that people defficate, and throw bodies in the same water that they bathe in would ever have the same opportunities that you yourself now have as an American citizen - Sir you sit in a privileged position, today you had the the opportunity to write something noteworthy - instead you squandered this opportunity in order to scribble a sad commentary about an historic decision - and to let the people aware of how thankful you are - the generations of slaves and cast down peoples that have sacrificed so much to give you - "an immigrant and minority" the opportunity to write - opportunities that you now have as an American citizen - Have you no shame, riding on the coat tails of every downtrowden minority who has suffered under the tyranny of white racis for hundreds of years - peoples who lost their lives - and there freedoms - in order to give you - the brown minority immigrant the very freedom & the privliges you have today - that you could never ever find in your own native land - what collosal nerve! - you yourself would be called nigger by the same tea bagger crowd you now attempt to pander too. So.. two republican wars - hundreds of thousands of innocent murdered men women and children - trillions of dollars wasted - tax breaks for the rich - not enough to convince you, to use this opportunity to scribble something that at least made us aware that you understood the importance of this decision - you like all self -hating brown people in America, would do or say anything to cloak your selves in the false cape of lilly white - despite the obvious - you like Michale the bamboozled, step-and-fetch it Steele - have clouded yourselves with the falshood of precived white acceptance and equality. Get a life!.. you sad little man

Wow

I don't understand why you need to insult india to get your point across... I agree with baptox, you point becomes completely worthless because of the sheer ignorance that you display in your little rant. And that's even when I agree that Tunku is completely off the mark. This is politics. That's the way it goes, man, stop pretending that Republicans are saints all of a sudden because they are standing up for their "principles." It's all politics.

Don't indict India just because one American pundit with an Indian-sounding name is an idiot! You sound more stupid than he does...

Tunku was born in India and is a British citizen living in the U.S.

I come here not only to read stories that favor my political opinion but because this is where I can also get opposing views. Well it looks like the opposing view to day consists of childish FUD. Give me a fact to backup the 55% claim or well reasoned opinion why this is bad for America. This article does neither. It is only the whining of a sore loser. Shame on you Mr. Varadarajan and shame on the Daily Beast for publishing it.

We have to give conservatives a little bit of a break, Joseph.Rush Limbaugh and Fox News didn't prepare their listeners for a loss of this magnitude, and conservatives are in a state of shock.It's not surprising that conservatives are lashing out blindly in all directions.

It sure was a piece of junk - the same old crap we hear on Fox news every day - nothing substantial - hardly worthy of the Daily Beast.

Actually, it was the epitomy of Democracy in action. A blend of every idea distilled through the process of compromise. I think that's exactly how it supposed to work.

"epitome"

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