05/01/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reconcile This: The "Up or Down" Vote Will Happen

Reconciliation is one of those words that sounds great when used in another country

Right-wing whites along with the rest of the world embraced South Africa's peace and reconciliation process as a way to put apartheid crimes on the record without a punitive witch-hunt that would intensify racial and political tensions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired a panel to hear evidence without the power to execute or imprison or execute wrongdoers.

The idea was to disclose the truth while attempting to bring a dangerously polarized society together. Forgiveness, it was thought, could help the country move on.

In the US, at least these days, reconciliation has another meaning and purpose: to allow legislators to find compromises in enacting legislation by reconciling Senate and House versions of the bill.

Republicans used this tool to pass the Reagan budgets and Bush tax cuts that benefited the wealthy and arguably helped bankrupt the economy. Their legislative maneuver was justified as a necessary method of getting done what they wanted done. There was no moralizing about it, no shame.

Now that Democrats are talking about reconciling the Senate and House versions of the Health Care Reform Bill, (so that it can be passed by majority vote) many of these same Republican windbags are up in arms charging treason and worse. Nevertheless, President Obama is going ahead, calling for an up or down vote. Majority Leader Pelosi says she has the votes.

The Republicans are apoplectic. Suddenly when a tactic they used may be used against them, they are on the ramparts screaming about a betrayal of the Constitution.

Never mind that more than a year has been spent debating ---and watering down so-called reforms including the junking of a wildly popular public option. Never mind that way more than a majority of Senators and a majority of the House backed the measure with certain differences of course.

To the Republican bluster uber alles squad, the only acceptable remedy would be to "start over," as if the election of 2008 never happened. It is always their way or the highway. For them, the political jihad comes first and killing the bill and all health care reform is the crusade dujure, smirks, invented arguments and all. They have wrapped themselves in their message points and just love the drone of their echo chamber.

Wink, Wink!

It was so obvious at the CSPAN Summit that Obama was talking to the wallpaper.

Also obvious was how unwilling the Obamacrats have been to leave what they perceived as the political safety of the center, unwilling to use what power they have to push their agenda through, and in the process incur the wrath of Fox News and middle of the Road DINOS (Democrats In Name Only) who are totally integrated into the system, if not, bought off, or at least leased, by the Insurance lobby. They live in a gut-free zone.

They may pay lip service for the need for change but lack the spine and will to fight for it. They had already disregarded and dissed those in their own ranks pushing for Single Payer, Medicare for all etc. They bombed a public option the way the Israelis want us to treat Iran. (Israel, by the bye, has a government backed health care system.)

You can't totally blame Obama for this muddle of the middle, because of the way Wall Street bought the Congress. What is troublesome is his continuing stated hope against hope that somehow he can use rationality and logic to appeal to the illogical and irrational. At the same time, he worked on the Hill and must know who he is dealing, or not dealing with. (Yes I remember Rumsfeld's dicta, "you go to war with the army you have.")

This is a political game that has more dicey parts than a Toyota. The partisans on the right project more certainty in their convictions and in their demagoguery. They have a big noise machine to drive them on -- even if it is to the abyss. As one of my readers noted, they seem programmed by Fox News. (In the old days media outlets reported what politicians say; today some are browbeating them into what to say!)

As for health care for all, they don't care about it. They never did.

There can be no reconciliation between these two "sides" -- or, should we say wings on the same plane, even if there may be more similarities here than appears. Most of the Dems have a stake in serving the system; few have the independence or willingness to go to the mattresses or stand up for what they claim, at times, to believe in.

They wouldn't be politicians if they were not wedded to wheeling and dealing and perpetual compromise. It is their waffling that also gives Republicans the encouragement to take a harder and harder line. They project no patience for "wusses" and whiners. They believe they will cave, and they may be right.

The Dems know a hotly contested election is coming and banking on their incumbency and money raising capacity to insure re-election. They don't like ideological battles maybe in part because they don't know what they think most of the time.

They want to please their voters, not challenge them,

The media bigs know that interest in politics has gone way down except among the most politically aligned. They know that to build bigger audiences, they have to pour oil on the flames and amp up the confrontation,

Heat sells, light doesn't.

Keep the scandals and the manufactured "showdowns" coming!

So can you reconcile this -- our vast needs and a political system that can't address them? An economy in free fall and policies that fall way short of fixing it? And, politicians who want to posture and lecture each other rather than organize their supporters and defend their programs?

If health care reform disintegrates, if financial reform flames out, if the consumer protection agency is deep-sixed or pushed into a back office in Tim Geithner's Treasury Department, many of Obama's backers will have fewer reasons for reconciling themselves with a Titanic that seems to have nowhere to go but down.

Will this lead to a new political initiative? If not now, when? Help me reconcile all this, help me now.

News Dissector Danny Schechter edits His new film, Plunder treats the financial crisis as a crime story. ( Comments to

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