A gaffe, Michael Kinsley famously mused, is what results when a politician inadvertently tells the truth. And so it was Monday when Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch came clean about his party's scorched-earth opposition to health care reform being championed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. Hatch acknowledged, as I've long argued, that the GOP is worried not that Obama's health care initiatives might fail, but that they might succeed.
As he did in his pivotal effort to block Bill Clinton's health care efforts starting in 1993, conservative strategist Bill Kristol warned his Republican allies then as now that that a victory for President Obama would earn his party the thanks of a grateful public and guarantee Democratic majorities for the foreseeable future. In an interview with CNS Monday, Senator Hatch revealed that was his darkest fear as well:
HATCH: That's their goal. Move people into government that way. Do it in increments. They've actually said it. They've said it out loud.
Q: This is a step-by-step approach --
HATCH: A step-by-step approach to socialized medicine. And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, "All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party."
Q: They'll have reduced the American people to dependency on the federal government.
HATCH: Yeah, you got that right. That's their goal. That's what keeps Democrats in power.
Of course, President Obama and the Democratic Party have no interest in fostering dependency among Americans, but instead seek to remedy the crippling health care crisis which threatens their financial security and the nation's future. As with their staunch opposition to Social Security and Medicare, programs which dramatically reduced poverty among the elderly, Republicans now want to stop at all costs the third pillar of the Democratic social contract.
For that, grateful American voters would doubtless reward Democrats at the polls. On that point, Orrin Hatch is absolutely right. And, for once, telling the truth.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)