CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The fertile mind of tea party Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, once produced the twisted claim that a dozen or more Harvard law professors were members of the Communist Party. He never troubled himself to reconcile his McCarthy-esque assertion with a well-established Harvard specialty -- the training of lawyers for careers in shoulder-to-shoulder service with the lions of Wall Street capitalism.
Now Cruz and his cohorts have reduced the GOP to a lost driver who refuses to ask for directions. He has become a paragon of self-confident confusion.
In recent weeks Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other conservative leaders have told us that the government had to be shut down because Dems would not negotiate Obamacare, that Obamacare was rammed down the throats of the American People and etc. A sampling:
* "There are many scandalous aspects of Obamacare: how it was passed -- on a brutal partisan vote rammed through with late-night deals ... (it) was rammed through in the dark of the night ... " -- Cruz, Sept. 24.
* "(President Obama's) refusal to negotiate is what's putting the government at risk of default." -- Boehner, Oct. 4.
* "Nothing illegal about ramming (Obamacare) through ... just totally contrary to the modern American tradition ... " -- Columnist Charles Krauthammer, Oct. 6.
Those are the moanings of a sore loser minority, as the history of Obamacare makes clear:
Between May and October 2008, before Obama was elected to his first term, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, held 10 bipartisan hearings on health-care reform. The committee is comprised of 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
Obama was elected that fall. Over the next seven months, Baucus and the committee's ranking minority member Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, held four hearings, three committee discussions and three committee roundtables at which particulars of what would become Obamacare were negotiated, inspected, discussed, adjusted, mediated, consecrated, canonized, homogenized and pasteurized.
And they were just getting warmed up. From June to September 2009, three Democratic and three Republican Finance Committee members rolled up their sleeves and went at it again. Among this "gang of six" were Baucus, Grassley, Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. They hammered out the foundation of the health- care reform law in 31 sweat dripping, hair pulling, garment rending bipartisan negotiation sessions that totaled 60 hours.
As a result, on Oct. 13, 2009, the Senate Finance Committee voted 14 to 9 to adopt the recommendations of the gang of six, with Republican Olympia Snowe crossing over to vote with the Dems. Having passed the bill out of the Finance Committee, the full Senate then went at it hammer and tongs during November and December. Dozens of GOP amendments were agreed to by the Democrats. On Christmas Eve the bill passed the Senate 60-39, with nary a Republican vote of yea, not even that of Olympia Snowe.
On March 21, 2010, after weeks of debate and negotiation, the bill passed the U.S. House. Two days later the president signed it into law, which has been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and re-validated by the populace with Obama's re-election.
Now conservative leaders whine that Obamacare was not fairly negotiated, voted upon and signed into law. They do so to cover their growing realization that Obamacare is being embraced by Americans.
Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette contributing columnist and a professor at Marshall University.