Democrats in Disarray on Obamacare!

This sort of thing happens all the time, but it’s important now and then to draw attention to it as a warning to Democrats about how they engage in internal debate. At the end of a report on Darrell Issa raving at Jonathan Gruber today, FoxNews (in an unsigned report to which “the Associated Press contributed,” whatever that means) offers this kicker:

The hearing comes as prominent Democrats debate the wisdom of devoting much of 2009 — Barack Obama’s first year as president — to the bruising battle for the health care legislation, which finally passed without a single Republican vote. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is among those Democrats now criticizing the timing. Top liberals are defending Obama, creating new divisions among Democrats right after major losses in this year’s elections.

For one thing, this “debate” has been going on since well before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, so there are no “new divisions.” For another, the suggestion that the two sides in this argument are roughly equivalent in size and influence is very dubious; so far Schumer has mostly been defended by pundits and a few ex-congressmen (like full-time lobbyist John Breaux).

But hey, “Democrats in disarray” is a story-line that is evergreen and ever-welcome. That doesn’t mean Democrats should suppress internal debate, but it does mean they should be active in disputing use of these “divisions” by unfriendly media. I’m always reminded of an apocryphal story about a social scientist going to Wrigley Field on a sunny afternoon to ask a malingering fan if he was worried about violating “the Protestant work ethic.” He responded: “Look, I’m a bad Catholic–an atheist Catholic sometimes–but I’m no goddamn Protestant!” This needs to be the vigilant attitude Democrats have when their debates are used and abused by the likes of Fox.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.