Regardless of the outcome of ObamaCare, if past behavior signals the future, the Obama administration's next big push will be to mute its most successful critics.
It will come as no surprise when ObamaCare proponents invoke the name of Ted Kennedy to promote passage of a healthcare reform bill when Congress reconvenes. "Let's win one for the Gipper" will become "Let's win one for ol' Teddy." But will that alone tip the balance in favor of healthcare reform as represented in the House's version? Not likely.
Nor is it likely that the Obama administration will declare defeat and retreat from the Beltway battlefield, revise the plan, and come at it again, later. That could send it down the path paved by President Bush's efforts to reform Social Security -- to oblivion.
More likely, ObamaCare will morph into a watered-down compromise bill acceptable to moderate Republicans. Close scrutiny will reveal that it contains one or more camel noses under the tent that offer entry points for later expansion. But the noses won't be so blatantly odious as to invoke the level of opposition we've witnessed at recent town hall meetings.
President Obama will herald passage of a healthcare reform bill as an example of bipartisan collaboration. The far Left base of the Democrat Party will be angry, but recover quickly. After all, they're not about to vote Republican or Libertarian.
Conservative Republicans will issue warnings against the camel's nose, but they'll be out-voted by Democrats with help from moderate Republican Senators that could include Snow, Murkowski, Martinez, Grassley, Lugar, Collins, Graham, McCain, and others.
The legacy media will herald the passage of healthcare reform legislation as evidence that the Obama administration has taken control of the agenda away from the far Left Democrats in Congress, has asserted his presidential leadership authority, and now plans to work in concert with the more reasonable centrist Republicans. Expect a New York Times headline that suggests that Obama is following the Clinton strategy of moving toward the Center. But it'll be a myth.
Meanwhile, the legacy media will paint rightwing conservatives as having suffered a stunning defeat by the passage of a healthcare bill, any healthcare bill. Imagine a Washington Post headline that reads "Conservative Republicans Fail to Defeat Healthcare Reform".
A kumbaya moment will accompany the ceremony where Obama signs a bill surrounded by Democrats and moderate Republicans not facing a serious challenge for re-election in 2010. And that's about how long the group hug will last -- a moment.
While the Cap & Trade Bill ricochets around inside the Senate, Rahm, Reid and Pelosi will launch a full-scale assault against the frontline opposition to the fundamental transformation of America that Obama promised as the election approached last November. Namely, against leading radio talk show hosts and some FOX News television personalities. It will, of course, all be done in the name of civility, fairness and diversity. Media reform is good for America, its proponents will claim.
While building the fiction of a new atmosphere of bipartisan cooperation, there'll be a coordinated effort to throttle back the impact that Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, Hannity, Ingraham and other leading conservative media pundits have had on the healthcare debate. It's inevitable. Why? Because, "The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all." (Machiavelli)
Don't be surprised if the June 2007 words of former Republican whip Senator Trent Lott are cited by Democrats like Senator Charles Schumer (NY) as evidence of bipartisan concern for the divisive impact of talk radio on the American political scene. Back during the Immigration Bill debate, Lott said, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem." Look for Lott to surface on Meet The Press to support an effort to rein in the incendiary rhetoric attributed to talk show hosts by those who don't like what they say. Expect the resurrection of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Charles Edward Coughlin, who initially supported FDR's New Deal policies and then became a popular media critic of Roosevelt. Coughlin would make a convenient subject for an MSNBC historical comparison in a special entitled "The Incendiary Media".
The fundamental transformation the Obama administration plans for America cannot proceed unchallenged without the Noam Chomsky concept of democracy applied to the media. "Personally, I'm in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions of society have to be under popular control." One of those central institutions of society is the media. Popular control doesn't belong to the free marketplace in Chomsky-logic. It belongs to the federal government.
Chomsky-logic is embraced by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer, Mark Lloyd. He calls for a "confrontational movement" to take control of the media away from corporations and give it to the public. In other words, give control to the federal government.
President Obama will, of course, keep his distance from any confrontational movement just as he's now distancing himself from a renewed investigation of the CIA's use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. The buck only stops on his desk when he wants it to. When he doesn't, he passes the buck.
As long as talk radio and FOX News are free to speak, the Obama administration will not have a free pass to cramdown its transformational legislation. And, the more success the opposition media achieves, the more they'll step into the crosshairs of federal intervention. A determined legislative assault against them will be the Obama administration's next big push after healthcare reform plays out, either in victory, in defeat, or in some mix of the two.
If this forecast becomes reality, it could bring a seminal moment in the nation's history with nothing less at stake than the integrity of the First Amendment. And the outcome could well be determined by whether those who rose to oppose the government takeover of the healthcare system will stand even taller in support of Free Speech?