Getting all the way to the end of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who’s still talking to hear himself talk, raised a few eyebrows last night by reading, among other things, from Dr. Seuss.

For those who can’t watch clips online, the far-right Texan read “Green Eggs and Ham” with great earnestness from the Senate floor. (He can’t hold a candle to the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s version, but let’s put that aside for now.) Cruz continued to reference the book after having put it down, insisting it “has some applicability, as curious as it may sound, to the Obamacare debate.”

He added, “The difference with green eggs and ham – when Americans tried it, they discovered they did not like green eggs and ham, and they did not like Obamacare, either. They did not like Obamacare in a box, with a fox, in a house, or with a mouse.”

There is, however, a small problem with Cruz’s choice of literary references: he apparently didn’t understand the story.

In “Green Eggs and Ham,” our protagonist thinks he dislikes food he hasn’t tried. By the end, the character discovers green eggs and ham really aren’t so bad after all. Indeed, he comes to regret criticizing something he didn’t fully understand, and ends up celebrating the very thing he’d complained about so bitterly.

Cruz thinks this “has some applicability, as curious as it may sound, to the Obamacare debate”? What a coincidence; I think it has some applicability, too.

Indeed, the larger point helps underscore why the right is fighting so furiously to defund, delay, sabotage, impair, malign, and otherwise undermine the federal health care law right now, before it’s too late. Unhinged Republicans aren’t worried Obamacare will fail; they’re worried it will work and Americans will discover they quite like green eggs and ham after all.

Eugene Robinson had a good piece on this yesterday, published well ahead of the theatrics on the Senate floor.

Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed.

That’s the reason for all the desperation. Republicans are afraid that Obamacare will not prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare – that Americans, in fact, will find they actually like it.

Similarly, Josh Marshall referenced one of my favorite health care stories yesterday. Bill Kristol wrote a strategy memo as the Clinton-era health care fight was getting underway, urging Republicans to destroy reform at all costs. The conservative pundit said at the time that if Clinton succeeded, Democrats would be seen as the “protector of middle-class interests,” and it would be politically impossible to take away the health care benefits once they were in place.

What the GOP had to do, Kristol said, was put the party’s interests over the country’s needs, stopping the reform effort before Americans discovered they like it. Republicans, of course, agreed.

Nearly two decades later, the script hasn’t changed much, except now the green eggs and ham are on the plate and the public is poised to discover how much they like the very thing they’ve been told to complain about.

Why Ted Cruz thinks this story is helpful to his cause is a bit of a mystery, but maybe later today, one of his friends from Harvard or Princeton can have a chat with him about literary interpretation and the potency of metaphors.

Ted Cruz, Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Getting all the way to the end of 'Green Eggs and Ham'

Updated