By Danny Schechter
Author of The Crime of Our Time.
Reconciliation is one of those words that sounds great when used in another country
Right-wing whites along with the rest of the world embraced South Africa's peace and reconciliation process as a way to put apartheid crimes on the record without a punitive witch-hunt that would intensify racial and political tensions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired a panel to hear evidence without the power to execute or imprison or execute wrongdoers.
The idea was to disclose the truth while attempting to bring a dangerously polarized society together. Forgiveness, it was thought, could help the country move on.
In the US, at least these days, reconciliation has another meaning and purpose; to allow legislators to find compromises in enacting legislation by reconciling Senate and House versions of the bill.
Republicans used this tool to pass the Reagan budgets and Bush tax cuts that benefited the wealthy and arguably helped bankrupt the economy. Their legislative maneuver was justified as a necessary method of getting done what they wanted done. There was no moralizing about it, no shame.
Now that Democrats are talking about reconciling the Senate and House versions of the Health Care Reform Bill so that it can be passed by majority vote many of these same Republican windbags are up in arms charging treason and worse. Nevertheless, President Obama is going ahead, calling for an up or down vote. Majority Leader Pelosi says she has the votes.
The Republicans are apoplectic. Suddenly when a tactic they used may be used against them, they are on the ramparts screaming about a betrayal of the Constitution.
Never mind that more than a year has been spent debating ---and watering down so-called reforms including the junking of a wildly popular public option. Never mind that way more than a majority of Senators and a majority of the House backed the measure with certain differences of course.
To the Republican bluster uber alles squad, the only acceptable remedy would be to "start over," as if the election of 2008 never happened. It is always their way or the highway. For them, the political jihad comes first and killing the bill and all health care reform is the crusade dujure, smirks, invented arguments and all. They have wrapped themselves in their message points and just love the drone of their echo chamber.