Republican John Feehery really stepped in it today, on MSNBC's "The Ed Show," when he insisted the "individual mandate" to purchase healthcare insurance would prove to be the most unpopular element of the bill President Obama proudly signed today (video below).
I had to remind Feehery: That's possible, but if so, it's just another problem for the GOP, because the idea came from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his friends at the Heritage Foundation. Back then Republicans were worried about people freeloading off a new government-backed system, so Romney included an "individual mandate." Steve Kornacki laid out Romney's would-be hidden history here. As Romney himself wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed back in 2006:
"Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian."
Barack Obama couldn't have put it better.
In the same MSNBC segment, Feehery dismissed a poll showing that a majority of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim, 37 percent think he's behaving like Hitler, and a quarter say he's the antichrist. How? By insisting that during the Bush administration there were polls showing a sizable chunk of Democrats thought George W. Bush was the antichrist and/or Hitler. I challenge my friend John to send me a link to those polls. They do not exist. At least Feehery acknowledged, mid-segment, that Republicans should be denouncing such ignorance and idiocy. That's more than his former employers in the House GOP are willing to do.
Whatever. It's already clear that Obama's healthcare victory could very likely sideline the duplicitous Mitt Romney. It ought to do the same for Sarah Palin. On her Twitter account Tuesday, Palin urged bill opponents, namely "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page."
Reload, Mrs. Palin? Most (but probably not all) Palin supporters may insist the tuckered-out former Alaska governor meant "reload" metaphorically. But in a country where angry right-wingers carry guns to see the president speak, and spit on African-American congressmen, I thought it was a chilling statement. Will any Republican denounce Palin's language?
Watch John Feehery and me debate on 'The Ed Show":