As all denizens of the internets know, Jumping the Shark is a phrase that has come to represent that moment in which a good something becomes permanently broken. It originally referred to the moment on Happy Days when Fonzie, for no evident reason, has to jump over a shark on waterskis because…well, because he had to, okay?
The actions of the formerly redoubtable Jane Hamsher during this health care debate, sadly, have now reached a point beyond Jumping the Shark. Hamsher has Transcended Sharks. She has rocketed over ever every member of Superorder Selachimorpha, and she is gone.
It’s not just her incessant parroting of right-wing talking points on individual mandates in her quixotic quest to “Kill the Bill.” Yes, Hamsher’s rhetoric since the public option was stripped has essentially mirrored the right-wing talking points (the evil government is gonna make you buy insurance! And if you’re doing well, you might even end up spending more on insurance, which will help others get insurance, but so what? What about your rights?), and that was the point at which she jumped the shark.
But now…well, now Jane has just gone beyond beyond. Because she’s allying herself with the worst elements of the Republican party. And I don’t mean that figuratively:
Jane Hamsher, Grover Norquist Call for Rahm Emanuel’s Resignation
By: Jane Hamsher Wednesday December 23, 2009 12:17 pm
Today, Grover Norquist and I are calling for an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s activities at Freddie Mac, and the White House’s blocking of an Inspector General who would look into it. The letter follows: [...]
This is, in a word, unforgivable. It would be akin to working directly with Dick Cheney. Norquist is, quite frankly, a man who has devoted his entire life to destroying the Democratic Party, and any form of government more robust that that which exists in Somalia. He famously has said of his aims, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” He wants to eliminate the FDA, the NEA, the IRS, and the Department of Education.
Norquist cut his teeth working with the Contras for Ollie North. He helped Newt Gingrich write the Contract With America. He’s the genius behind the TABOR legislation that’s been slowly strangling Colorado. Norquist was an early and enthusiastic backer of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s run for the presidency in 2000, and he has been associated with Karl Rove for decades. His goals are anathema to the goals of Democrats, or indeed anyone more liberal than James Inhofe.
Quite honestly, if Grover Norquist approached me and asked me to help him in his quest to save puppies, it would lead me to rethink my feelings about puppies. So it’s not just alarming, but flatly wrong for Hamsher to join in common cause with Norquist, even if there was strong evidence that Rahm Emmanuel had done something specifically wrong during his brief tenure at Freddie Mac, which there isn’t.1
At any rate, Hamsher isn’t concerned about Emmanuel’s ethical problems. She’s mad because Emmanuel put pressure on the Senate to find a compromise that could get through the Senate, and that led us to the bill which lacks the public option, which alone has caused mandates to go from fairly understandable requirements to the worst! violation! of liberty! ever!!! And Hamsher wants to punish Emmanuel and the Obama Administration however she can. if that means making common cause with the likes of Norquist or Phyllis Freakin’ Schlafly, so be it.
Well include me out. I can understand being so frustrated with the bill coming out of the Senate that you’d oppose it. I think the idea that a better bill is just waiting for more willpower, or attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or a really good speech from Barack Obama betrays a certain naïveté about the realities of the American system of government, and I think the main lines of attack from the Kill Bill crowd have been specious at best, but I can understand the frustration shared by anti-compromise forces; indeed, I share it, even as I understand that reality means we have to give in to Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman because that’s the way the system works.
But Hamsher has moved beyond principled opposition to the bill, and beyond even strong and forceful criticism of the Obama Administration. She’s now working with people who do not wish to improve the Obama Administration, but instead wish to destroy it. She’s working with people who do not want to improve the bill working its way though Congress so that more people are helped and corporations get their just deserts, but instead with people who want Congress to end Medicaid because it helps the wrong sort of people.
I’m sorry, but that’s beyond the pale. Hamsher may have the purest of intent. But her actions are helping and emboldening the right. She has, ultimately, become the mirror of her greatest adversary, Holy Joe Lieberman, another person who started out a moderate liberal, and ended up joining forces in common cause with the Republican Party. In his case, it was just the war he was with them on. In Hamsher’s case, it’s just health care and Rahm Emmanuel. In both of their cases, they’re gone. And they’re never coming back.
- There is some evidence that Emmanuel did nothing during his brief tenure at Freddie Mac, and that he basically received a paycheck for doing said nothing because he’d been a high-ranking official in the Clinton Administration, but while such a deal may be unethical — indeed, is unethical, in my opinion — it isn’t criminal, and isn’t much different than, say, Halliburton hiring a politically-connected former Defense Secretary as its chief. Indeed, such practices are sadly common, on both sides of the aisle. That may be reason to think Rahm isn’t particularly ethical, or even a reason to think Emmanuel’s a bad person. It isn’t by itself reason to call for his resignation. And it certainly isn’t the real reason Hamsher or Norquist are doing so. [↩]