When newly elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts attacked the Democrats' healthcare plan during the Republican address two weeks ago, Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod said on ABC's This Week: "Let me note that Sen. Brown comes from a state that has a healthcare format in his state that is similar to the one we're trying to enact here. He voted for it and said he wouldn't repeal it. So we're just trying to give the people in America the same opportunities that the people in Massachusetts have."
Visibly agitated when appearing on the same program, Sen. Lindsey Graham said of Axelrod's comments: "The American people are getting tired of this crap. No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we're about to do in Washington. To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin."
Americans are indeed tired of lying politicians, but the only crap being put forth here is by Graham. And it's not just Axelrod who is pointing out the similarities between the Democrats' healthcare plan and Mitt Romney's Republican model — everyone is.
Let's start with the liberals. The popular blog Think Progress notes: "Both plans require people to purchase coverage, and both provide affordability credits to those who can't afford insurance. Both create insurance exchanges, both establish minimum creditable coverage standards for insurers, and both require employers to contribute towards reform."
Making similar observations from a conservative perspective, The American Spectator's Philip Klein writes: "If Obamacare passes, Romney will be left telling angry primary voters that the only real difference between the two plans is that he implemented his policies at the state level, while Obama did it through the federal government. It's sort of like saying, 'As governor, I raised state income taxes, but the thought of raising federal income taxes — that's an outrage!'"
Hell, even neoconservatives can see the similarities, or as the headline read at former Bush speechwriter David Frum's blog, FrumForum.com: "Romneycare Sure Looks Like Obamacare."
So how can Graham claim that Romneycare is not anything like Obamacare, while so many from across the political spectrum are claiming just the opposite?
Graham's display of anger and ignorance on this issue says more about the Republican Party than healthcare. A GOP that assails Obama's foreign policy when it's not much different from Bush's, or criticizes Obama's growth of government while pretending Bush didn't do the same, or attacks the Democrats' healthcare plan while defending a similar Republican plan, reveals a party that revels in partisanship but lacks serious, conservative principles.
Consider this: One of the greatest fears of conservatives continues to be the government takeover of healthcare. On the surface, Graham's anger is even being perceived as an example of the deep partisan divide in the healthcare debate. Yet notes The Boston Globe of the supposedly conservative Romney, whose healthcare plan Graham defends: "Romney demonstrates a greater confidence than many prominent Republicans in government's ability to solve big problems. Even though he is critical of the Democrats' healthcare plan, he says his experience adjusting the Massachusetts system has led him to share their goal of universal coverage and the belief that only government can expand the number of Americans who are insured."
While today Republicans rightly oppose Obama's version of government healthcare, who's to say that a President John McCain would not be reaching across the aisle to implement his own version, an idea the allegedly more conservative Romney has already embraced? When Graham said that Americans are "tired of this crap," he was bitterly defending the integrity of state-run healthcare in Massachusetts, a big government program that Tea Party hero Scott Brown and talk radio favorite Mitt Romney also proudly defend as their own.
If the Tea Partiers are to be believed, conservatives are hungry for a budget-cutting, government-slashing, Constitution-enforcing leader in the mold of Barry Goldwater. But where are such leaders? When you look beneath their thin, partisan veneers, most of today's Republican leadership isn't substantially different from that of the Democratic Party, whether in the mold of "moderates" like Lindsey Graham or "conservatives" like Scott Brown and Mitt Romney. Would anyone really be surprised if a future President Romney teamed up with GOP Sens. Graham and Brown to implement their own national healthcare plan? And when Republicans eventually regain power, will anyone be surprised when they offer up the same old big government crap they pretend to oppose today?
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.