Southern Politics

Jim Demint post it note: noThat’s what one almost has to conclude after perusing the McClatchy review of how the Party of No, including South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, nay sayer and ObamaCare slayer par excellence, continue to dis their constituents in the interest of remaining ideologically pure.

“Senator DeMint opposed President Obama’s government takeover of health care because he believed it would lead to higher insurance premiums, less choices for patients, and that it was unconstitutional,” said DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton. “And that’s exactly what has happened, and why ObamaCare must be repealed.”

Perhaps the Senator from South Carolina perceives himself in a contest with President Obama and that accounts for the enhancement of Obama’s role. In fact, of course, private insurance corporations continue to play middleman between doctor and patient and, while the feel-good program formerly known as Medicare Advantage has been significantly scaled back, providing for health and welfare can’t possibly be unconstitutional. But, if you’re out to slay an imaginary dragon, it would be silly not to paint it gigantic.

In any event, one year after its passage, reviews of the Affordable Care Act are coming in and are mostly positive, especially from the recipients of $1 billion in Therapeutic Discovery Grants. These grants have obviously been distributed on the basis of merit, rather than the stature of the Senator or Congressman who represents the recipients’ district. And that may well be the crux of the problem for folks like De Mint of South Carolina and Cornyn of Texas–merit based grants that don’t have to be paid back provide no opportunity to extort support, either in the form of campaign contributions, or guaranteed votes at election time.

Being contrary works in unexpected ways. While a ‘no’ vote, being certain, is undeniably attractive to insecure people who specialize in avoiding risk, caution can be thrown to the wind when it comes to claiming a share in any success. (How often have we heard Republicans crow that their opposition made whatever Democrats accomplished better?) And then, of course, there are the voters in whom hope springs eternal and the “benefit of the doubt” is always eager to trot out when, the next time around, the politician claims to have found the light. Nobody’s keen to admit they elected a dolt.

On the other hand, people who sign on to be stewards of the country’s resources and assets ought not to be given a pass. After all, while denying themselves and resisting profligate behavior is admirable in every sense, depriving the people they represent of access to their own public assets actually verges on abuse. It’s not even a matter of “hiding one’s talents under a bushel,” which Jesus decried; it’s withholding that to which people are entitled or, even worse, distributing their assets to someone else, not unlike the dishonest steward, writing down his master’s debtors debts, when he knew he was about to be sacked. It’s a clever ploy, being generous with what belongs to someone else. That’s triangulation at its best. But public servants ought not to be allowed to get away with it.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."