The award for the “Least Likely to be True Headline” goes to William Saletan at Slate.com, Pelosi’s Triumph:  Democrats didn’t lose the battle of 2010. They won it.

But least likely does not mean wrong.

How could Democrats have won the battle of 2010.  Didn’t we just crush them in the mid-term elections?

Please focus on the wording Saletan uses.  Democrats won “the battle” of 2010, not necessarily all the battles.  So what was “the battle”?

Saletan makes a point I have made here many times before.  The real vice (or in Saletan’s view, virtue) of sweeping health care, consumer and financial services legislation passed the past 18 months is that Obama has put in place a legislative superstructure which covers much of the economy. 

If not a single new piece of social legislation is passed due to the takeover of the House of Representatives by Republicans, Obama gets two years to fill in this legislative superstructure through regulation and executive branch policy.

Saletan sums up the triumph (emphasis mine):

A party that loses a House seat can win it back two years later, as Republicans just proved. But a party that loses a legislative fight against a middle-class health care entitlement never restores the old order…. It’s a huge structural change in the relationship between the public, the economy, and the government.

Politicians have tried and failed for decades to enact universal health care. This time, they succeeded. In 2008, Democrats won the presidency and both houses of Congress, and by the thinnest of margins, they rammed a bill through. They weren’t going to get another opportunity for a very long time. It cost them their majority, and it was worth it.

And that’s not counting financial regulation, economic stimulus, college lending reform, and all the other bills that became law under Pelosi. So spare me the tears and gloating about her so-called failure….Democrats didn’t lose the most important battle of 2010. They won it.

The mid-term elections were a massive blow to the Democratic Party, one which will be felt for multiple election cycles.  But 2010 was a good year for the ideology of government expansion, even if it left several dozen Democratic congressman and senators politically dead.  They were sacrificed for the greater cause.

Which is why 2012 counts so much.  The House will spend the next two years trying to squeeze soap from Obama’s legislative sponge through the power of the purse.  But as everyone knows, it is all but impossible to get all the soap out of the sponge.

We need to repeal and replace.  Not just Obamacare, but Obama in 2012. 

And not just Obama, but Democratic control of the Senate. 

And not just Democratic control of the Senate, but also Republicans in the Senate or running for Senate who are unwilling to throw out the sponge.

Update 11-7-2012:  Via The New York Times, G.O.P. Plans to Use Purse Strings to Fight Health Law

Given their slim majority, Senate Democrats must stick together if they want to avoid sending Mr. Obama spending bills and other legislation that he would feel compelled to veto, setting up the prospect of a broader deadlock and, in an extreme situation, a government shutdown.

Pass the bill and make Democratic Senators, many of whom are up for reelection, vote against it.  It really is that simple.

See also Glenn Reynolds, Republicans should seek clarity by listening to voters:

With the deficit and the debt ballooning, with the economy remaining in the tank, and with tough choices on the horizon, what Americans need more than anything is clarity about what those choices involve, about who is making them, and about who is avoiding them

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