His name was Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, but you might remember him by his nickname: “Baghdad Bob” (or in you prefer, “Comical Ali”). As those who remember the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq no doubt recall, he was the unintentionally hilarious Iraqi Information Minister who would tell international journalists how well things were going for Iraq in the war, despite obvious facts to the contrary.
At one point, al-Sahhaf announced, “I triple guarantee you; there are no American soldiers in Baghdad,” as U.S. planes flew over his head and buildings blew up behind him.
Just yesterday, al-Sahhaf came to mind watching Republicans struggle with Affordable Care Act developments. As “Obamacare” had one of its best and most important days to date, GOP leaders nevertheless assured the public that all of the good news is actually bad, that conspiracy theories can explain away the appearance of progress, and they can triple guarantee us that the law is not succeeding.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) shortly after telling Fox News that the White House is perpetrating an elaborate fraud through bogus enrollment data, said on Twitter that the entirety of the ACA “has to be torn down and we need to start over.” Why? Because “Obamacare can’t be ‘fixed.’”
Graham asked that his like-minded allies retweet his message if they agree. The senator has nearly 10,000 followers, but as of this morning, only five people had given him the RT he was looking for. Ouch.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) soon followed.
“The president’s health care law continues to wreak havoc on American families, small businesses and our economy, and as I’ve said many times, the problem was never just about the website – it’s the whole law. […]“House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law and protect families and small businesses from its harmful consequences, and that’s why we’re taking action this week to repeal the law’s 30-hour rule that has become a significant barrier to job growth and higher wages. We will also continue our work to replace this fundamentally-flawed law with patient-centered solutions focused on lowering health care costs and protecting jobs.”
Millions of Americans, many for the first time, will have access to affordable medical care. The U.S. system is finally starting to perform as it should, with broad benefits for the nation overall.
And it’s against this backdrop that Republicans’ sole contribution to the health care policy debate is, “Let’s destroy Obamacare anyway.”
It reminds me of the witch scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The villagers decide they want to burn a suspected witch, and John Cleese offers proof of her evil ways: “She turned me into a newt.” It’s obvious, of course, that he’s not a newt, leading Cleese to say, “I got better.”
To which the ignorant villagers exclaim, “Burn her anyway!”
There are some parallels to the ACA debate. Republican decided they wanted to destroy the law, citing dubious evidence, which turned out to be wrong. Presented with reality, they shout, “Destroy it anyway!”
GOP officials will have to do better than this. For one thing, fighting to take away health care benefits from millions of families, just because, isn’t the foundation for a credible policy platform. For another, they still don’t have an alternative solution – and they’ve been working on it in secret for nearly five years.
This is getting embarrassing.