History’s Greatest Monster

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"History’s Greatest Monster"

There’s an ongoing myth out there that I vilified Rep Raul Grijalva by calling him “history’s greatest monster” and that this proves I’m a terrible person or some such.

Two points in response. One, this is a reference to a Simpson’s joke about over-the-top hostility to Jimmy Carter (see earlier remarks on pastiche and mashups):

Second, any criticism I ever offered of Rep Grijalva is now completely defunct since he and I have the exact same position on health reform! It seems to me that most dead-ender left-opponents of the health reform bill can’t quite come to grips with the fact that all the progressive leaders in Congress agree with me and disagree with them. This process started months ago when folks like Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, James Clyburn, Charlie Rangel, and George Miller were read out of the progressive firmament. But it continued when Grijalva ultimately realized that Progressive Caucus threats to block the largest expansion of the welfare state in 40 years were foolish. And it moves onward to Dennis Kucinich’s embrace of the bill. It’s true that at various times in the process left-wing House members have threatened to derail health reform and I’ve criticized them for it, but now that we’re here at the end I have no complaints with Grijalva, Kucinich, or anyone else on the left.

The problem we have today is with the usual suspects—the Blue Dogs—and with folks like Bart Stupak who oppose the bill on anti-abortion grounds. The weird remaining case is Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts. I remember doing volunteer work for one of Lynch’s opponents, Cheryl Jacques, in the 2002 primary when that was an open seat. The big divide between Jacques and Lynch was on the culture war type issues, where Lynch was very conservative, and they were both quite left-wing on economics. But Lynch was a former union leader, so he got strong union backing and won the primary. He wasn’t my favorite candidate in the race, but it never really occurred to me that he’d wind up screwing progressives over on an important health care bill out of anti-abortion zealotry.

What’s particularly galling about it is that he’s pretending to be advancing a Hamsher-style form of left-opposition to the bill on behalf of organized labor, which is more-or-less his base. But actual organized labor is strongly backing the bill, recognizing that whatever flaws it has it’s also the fulfillment of a longstanding union policy objective. Unlike Stupak, he hasn’t been all over television talking nonsense, but it’s the only way to make sense of what’s going on here. It’s not that Lynch has suddenly become more left-wing than Kucinich. So if he winds up sinking health care, you just might see me refer to him as “history’s greatest monster” which should not be taken by humorless culturally illiterate individuals to indicate that I literally think he’s worse that Hitler or Stalin or Mao.

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