"Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!"

It appears that Obama is channeling his inner David Farragut when it comes to healthcare reform. The Admiral’s now legendary cry, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead,” worked well in the Battle of Mobile Bay, but will the same approach work in the battle for health care reform?  After all, Farragut was able to keep the vast majority of his forced intact – with all but one of his fleet passing safely through the barrage of mines. On the other hand, Obama’s hard nosed approach has caused fractures and rifts within his own party which threaten to derail his reform train. Despite the protests of constituents, the public opinion polls, and his own free-falling disapproval rating, President Obama remains obstinate.

On his quest to impress health care reform onto the populace he has proven willing to do whatever it takes. Recently retired Democratic Congressman Eric Massa said as much this morning,

“Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they’ve gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots.”

Nobody is confusing Massa with a saint. He made some drunken crude comments that deserved to put him in hot water. But I didn’t hear similar pressure among the Democratic Leadership for Charlie Rangel’s removal. In fact, I heard a constant chorus from Nancy Pelosi defending her old friend,

“I think that every member is entitled to have his day before they ethics committee.”

Every member except for “no” votes on health care apparently, apologies to Eric Massa.

The Administration’s bag-o-tricks to pass health care extends well beyond ethical double-standards. Last week President Obama dug up a Chicago favorite – political nepotism. At the time the President invited ten on-the-fence Democrats to cajole them into voting yes for health care. One of those targets, Representative Jim Matheson of Utah, got more than just a talking to. Matheson’s brother, Scott, was named by the President to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Following the announcement Jim, who had previously voted against the Energy and Commerce Committee health care bill and the House Bill, announced that he was now “undecided.”

The issue is not whether Scott Matheson is qualified. Republican Congressman Orrin Hatch even stepped in to help shepherd the nomination through Congress. The issue is whether he would have been the nominee without the surrounding circumstances. The questions come from context. A week ago Joe Sestak claimed he was offered a federal job not to run against Presidential favorite Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. An initially reluctant Senator Landrieu was suddenly more than happy to see health care get passed after receiving hundreds of millions in the Louisiana Purchase. Ben Nelson, who was on record as saying “my vote is not for sale” suddenly changed his tune after being offered billions of dollars in benefits for his state via the Cornhusker Kickback. All told, Democratic leadership has given us very little reason to trust their claim that the appointment is based on pure qualifications. In the words of Massa, “…you connect the dots.”

Barack Obama came into office promising a new era of transparency. However throughout the process, the health care image has been distorted by bribery, corruption and favoritism. Damn the rules. Full speed ahead.

by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee

Read more at: www.collegerepublicans.org