Bob Franken: Unhealthy politics
That was a nice touch. After President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the first conversation between leaders of the two countries since 1979, he said goodbye in Farsi. Maybe he should call a tea-party leader and do the same thing in Crazy. After all, the far right is downright crazed about nailing this president and disgracing him by obliterating Obamacare. With their irrational actions and gibberish, it’s obvious that they’re detached from reality: While they might do serious damage to the country, they’re not going to stop the Affordable Care Act from taking effect. By law, it gets money to operate, no matter what.
Not that ACA is getting off to the smoothest of starts. Already we’re seeing embarrassing glitches and delays. It hasn’t helped that the Republicans have been possessed by spirits — their mean-spirited single-mindedness in trying to defund, delay or otherwise sabotage health-care reform. They’ve tried to make Obama pay ever since he won the legislative battle back in 2010. Even John McCain says their latest attempt is "not rational." Of course, the arch-conservatives really don’t like McCain very much. Most important, they refuse to even accept that Barack Obama is president.
The latest concoction, the defund-Obamacare campaign, has caused adrenaline to course through tea-party faithful, shooting them into a new frenzy, shaking them out of their lethargy. Who knew they were in a lethargy? They certainly aren’t now. They have a new hero fanning the flames in Ted Cruz. The very junior senator from Texas may spew out lots of nonsense, but when he does, he sure does talk purty as he rails against the Washington establishment.
Actually, he’s onto something. The old cabal of money and power people supported by their willing political puppets has wheeled and dealed this nation into a terrible mess, while they have enriched themselves. They’re Republicans and Democrats alike, and they are valid targets. But Cruz and his rowdy followers are wasting their energy going after Obamacare when there is so much else to tackle. Something truly has to be done about redirecting the billions of dollars that subsidize undeserving special interests, and putting a stop to the favored treatment we give the ones who need it least, while denying services to those who need them most. And yes, doing away with waste, fraud and abuse in the operation of our government must become more than a glib platitude. But why go after a program that will allow millions of Americans to afford medical treatment for themselves and their children?
The answer is that it is a singular achievement of the man who infuriates those who won’t even admit the real reason he does set them off. They are so antagonized by him that they’re all too willing to believe the total nonsense that he was born somewhere else and is not even eligible to be the chief executive.
Deal with it, people. The "Birthers" are wrong. He’s one of us, and he is the president. He and the members of the House and Senate all have a job to do. They’re not doing it. Somehow, many in Congress have it in their heads that the best way to save the United States is to irreparably harm the nation. That is crazy. What’s sane and reasonable is hashing out differences without one side trying to take the process hostage. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was possibly a little over the top likening House GOP hard-liners to "people with a bomb strapped to their chest." That may have been missing some nuance. What’s probably accurate is that they’re acting like children who have not gotten their way, so they’re throwing a tantrum. It won’t work. At least it shouldn’t. If we can’t get past the current petty fights, we will be a significantly weakened nation, which is exactly what we should not be when we’re dealing with adversaries like Iran.
Bob Franken is a former CNN correspondent. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.