Healthcare reform started out as what seemed to be a sure thing for the Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives. Majority control of the House, a filibuster proof Senate, a wildly popular President, and a supposed shift in the paradigm of political thought–amongst the electorate–towards a left-of-center nation. Progressive political capital was just oozing all over Pennsylvania Ave and their chimeric vision of the socially perfect welfare-state was just within arms reach. That is until the dog days of summer came a barkin’ and it was back to reality.
Now you have the likes of Nobel laureate and econo-missed, Paul Krugman, about ready to get on his knees and beg the Congress to pass healthcare reform. Then there is Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress trying to get Democrats to increase their phallic size so they can get “tough” and take “hostages.”
It’s this “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” attitude I find rather humorous. For the Left, healthcare reform might just become a Pyrrhic victory if it gets passed.
After defeating the Romans in the battles of Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC, King Pyrrhus of Epirus is reported to have said, “one more such victory would utterly undo him.” Pyrrhus’s armies were in ruins and most of his principal military leaders killed. Conversely the Romans–having garnered more losses–had the necessary reliefs, will, and supplies to continue fighting. Pyrrhus’s victories had cost him too much to continue.
If this bill, in whatever mutated form they deliver it, passes, it will drain the fever-swamp of the Democratic camp. Ideology will have triumphed necessity. This makes for a very good possibility of the Democrats wandering a political wasteland of their own design for decades too come.
Something for our “Tovarischs” on the Left to dutifully ponder.
Update: Looks like I wasn’t the only one hung up on the Pyrhhic analogy. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard took a liking to it also.