Unlike a shrill chorus among her fellow Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hasn’t – yet – accused congressional Republicans of committing sedition with their opposition to Obamacare. Even so, her charge that the Republicans are “sabotaging” the program is just as poisonous to the health of the political system. Sedition is widely understood to be incitement to insurrection for the purpose of overthrowing established authority. Sabotage is the act of obstructing or otherwise disrupting something, though not necessarily with the aim of subverting established authority.
So how can Pelosi’s corrosive rhetoric be as destructive as that being peddled by the likes of Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Democratic activist groups such as Moveon.org? Cohen described Tea Party Republicans as “domestic enemies” – which associates them with sedition – while Moveon.org called for the arrest and prosecution of House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans who oppose Obamacare, which is to say of all of them.
By contrast, Pelosi’s charge is more vacuous and thus more given to wide interpretation and abusive application. To engage in sabotage is to be a “saboteur,” an individual whose lethal acts are typically committed anonymously and in the shadows. In other words, the sedition charge is concrete and profoundly serious, but Pelosi seems to be drawing from a deeper well of paranoid imaginings.
Or maybe she simply is incapable of admitting the obvious and must therefore have a scapegoat to explain the failure of Healthcare.gov. Democrats for years have blamed every conceivable malady facing the nation – real and otherwise - on President George W. Bush and "the Republicans." But it wasn’t Bush or congressional Republicans who spent millions of tax dollars to design Healthcare.gov, only to have it almost instantly become a national joke at its launch.
Nor did Bush and the GOPers forego a competitive bidding process for the design contract, the receipt of which should have been a prestigious marker of technical skill and enlightened corporate public service. Most seriously, Bush and the Republicans had nothing to do with the incomprehensible decision to task bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services as “systems integrators” for the design project, a job for which government workers are uniquely unsuited.
All of these decisions are the sole responsibility of President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and the congressional Democrats, including especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Pelosi. They imposed Obamacare on a nation that clearly didn’t want it when it became law in 2010 and which has become even more intensely opposed to it in the three years that have since elapsed. Sooner or later, the president and his backers must be held accountable for the inevitable and costly failures of Obamacare.
Try as they might, these Democrats cannot escape reality. As Commentary columnist Pete Wehner put it: “The president desperately wishes he could share the blame for what has gone wrong. Except that every Republican in Congress opposed the Affordable Care Act. This is Barack Obama's signature achievement; he and his party are joined at the hip to it. They are as inseparable as salt and water in the ocean.”