The Affordable Care Act might eventually be a terrible idea for the country. Perhaps, as Paul Broun (R-GA) once said, "Obamacare is going to destroy everything that we know as a nation." Maybe Michelle Bachmann is right when she claimed, "I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we'll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare."In addition to GOP lawmakers making statements vehemently condemning the Affordable Care Act, they've tried over 35 times to repeal the law in Congress.
When it comes to big government healthcare programs, conservatives have likened the ACA to everything from communism to death panels. However, when it comes to war, the GOP doesn't see Uncle Sam picking the pockets of citizens. The $4 to $6 trillion that the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars will cost taxpayers never evokes anger from the Tea Party. Rather, it's funding someone else's surgery that really gets conservatives furious. Sadly, if Republicans viewed healthcare programs in the same manner as they viewed war over a decade ago, we wouldn't be in the gigantic debacle called Iraq.
Soon after the death of three thousand Americans on 9/11, Republicans worked vehemently to sell the Iraq War. In 2002, the same Bill Krystal who now bemoans Obamacare believed a war in Iraq "could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East."In 2002, Vice President Cheney in a speech stated the "entire world knows beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein holds weapons of mass destruction in large quantities."In early 2003, the Bush administration told the UN Security Council, "Either you're with us or against us."
Any opposition leading up to the Iraq War Resolution was met with political attacks and even Vietnam War heroes weren't safe from Karl Rove and a united Republican Party. Rove and Rep. Saxby Chambliss led the charge against Senator Max Cleland and questioned his patriotism for criticizing the impending insurgent war in the Middle East. Chambliss attacked the triple amputee Vietnam Veteran "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution," in addition to besmirching his character for having the audacity to be against the Iraq War Resolution. In order to better understand the mood of the time period, it's important to note that Chambliss got a medical deferment from Vietnam because of a football injury to his knee and Rove has never joined the military.
When General Eric Shinseki advocated a far greater troop level before the invasion-closer to a number like 300,000 soldiers -- he too was denigrated by Republicans. However, by 2007, even Lindsay Graham was quoted in a New York Times article as admitting Shinseki was right. As a result of invading and occupying a country as large as Iraq with an insufficient number of troops (in addition to a number of other mistakes), Bush announced a surge of troops in 2007. Essentially, this surge worked as a draft in that it prolonged tours of duty, keeping American soldiers in combat longer than in any other war in U.S. history. This prolonged time in battle directly led to the record number of PTSD cases as well as exacerbating the issue of suicide in the military.
The Iraq War Resolution passed with 215 House Republicans voting for it and 126 Democrats voting against the war. In the Senate, 48 out of 49 Republicans voted for it while 21 Democrats voted against going into Iraq. After the initial invasion, President Bush addressed the United Nations in late 2003 and declared America's invasion a noble endeavor:
The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world... Across Iraq, life is being improved by liberty.
While the country was still in shock, President Bush spoke confidently about the reasons for U.S. involvement in Iraq.
In 2004, Donald Rumsfeld justified the rush to war (and the fact Humvees weren't protected from IED's with extra armor) by saying, "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." In 2007, after a civil war between Shia and Sunni threatened to destroy Iraq, President Bush addressed the nation in a speech defending a surge in troop levels:
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Changing his tune from 2003, and possibly forshadowing 2014, Bush advocated widening the war because "the consequences of failure are clear."
Today, after all the monumental sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families, and with all the money spent nation building in Iraq, America has to contend with a new threat. Extremist militants named ISIS now have control of Fallujah (a one hour drive from Bagdad) and just recently conquered Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities and the home of two million people. Of course, the GOP is now changing the narrative from Bush's speeches to a recent call for further military action in Iraq. Interestingly, no word yet has been heard from the Tea Party about the financial cost of further military action in Iraq.
It says something about a political party when a health care law is the end of the world, but an insurgent war is something worthy of attacking even a triple amputee war veteran to defend. If only one could go back in time and tie in an amnesty clause or a nationalized healthcare law to the Iraq War Resolution, then maybe GOP lawmakers wouldn't have worked so hard to send the United States into the Iraq debacle. The truth is that the ACA, even if it falls short of its promises, won't do nearly as much damage to this country as the Iraq War. Analyzing the GOP's reaction to both will give you a good idea of its priorities.