Ed Kilgore remembers his father, who passed away Monday.
Mainstream media appropriating Mandela as a nice fuzzy uncontroversial touchstone is one thing. But this is something else entirely (h/t Adam Peck):
Here’s the relevant quote:
Nelson Mandela…was fighting against a great injustice. I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.
Implying that a market-based overhaul of the healthcare system is equivalent in some way to institutionalized racial oppression overseen by a police state (run for 12 years by a Nazi sympathizer) is grotesque. In fact, like any proper democratic socialist, Mandela made sure a right to health care was in the South African constitution. And as Peck points out, two years ago South Africa began implementing its own universal healthcare system, which shares many similarities with Obamacare, most notably a contribution mandate to the new system:
“If you earn above a certain income you will be required by law to make a contribution to the NHI Fund. It will not be possible to opt out of this responsibility,” [Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi] said.
But what is most striking about this exchange is that Rick Santorum seems to actually believe what he is saying. I’m coming to believe that Greg Sargent is right: Obamacare could well be a liability in 2014—for Republicans.
Watching CNN last night it was clear that media culture is busily appropriating and sanctifying the Mandela legacy in much the same way it did with Martin Luther King, glossing over his more controversial and significant actions in favor of a comfortable, easily digested image.
But the truth is that Nelson Mandela was a political leader and, for much of his life, a firebrand revolutionary. He was emphatically not some gauzy combination of Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.
The first thing to remember about Nelson Mandela is that, before he was the world’s kindly white-haired grandfather, he was a large and powerful man who had near-obsession with physical fitness. As a young man he liked to box, and was good at it. One of the more striking things about his excellent biography A Long Walk to Freedom is how much of it is dedicated to recounting his various exercise routines.
The second thing to remember is that before he was a nonviolent advocate for peace among all nations, he was a violent revolutionary who co-founded and ran the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Under his leadership the organization carried out several bombings. Mandela was inspired by the Cuban Revolution, and for most of his life one of his closest allies was Joe Slovo, head of the South African Communist Party. (The SACP was a keystone organization during the negotiations to end Apartheid.)
The third thing to remember is that while both Mandela’s personal charisma and his willingness to extend forgiveness to his bitterest opponents were morally magnificent in their own rights, they were just as much political tactics as they were dedications to a moral principle. Popular media tends to vastly understate the extent to which nonviolence is about power, struggle, and victory. Mandela was not a pacifist (in fact, under his presidency, the South African military briefly invaded Lesotho), he wanted to obtain freedom for his people by the best route possible. The same can be said about his post-Apartheid dedication to reconciliation.
Make no mistake, Nelson Mandela was a great leader, a moral beacon, and in my view the finest diplomatist of the 20th century. Calling him the George Washington of South Africa, with respect, doesn’t give him nearly enough credit. This is why the more rough-edged facets of his character being airbrushed out of popular history is so offensive—it was precisely because of these that he had such brilliant success.
You might have heard the famous rallying cry of the ANC: Amandla! It means “power.”
I lived in South Africa for two years, so I hope folks don’t mind if I get a little nostalgic about Mzanzi today. Here’s the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup match between South Africa and New Zealand, featured in the movie Invictus.
Closing down a bit early today as I make a last few rounds of family visits and calls. But next week I’ll have the opportunity for, and may need the distraction of, the full quota of 12 posts.
Here are some final items of the day:
* Ted Cruz tells ALEC members to “stand your ground.” They ate up his allusion to their long-time support for legislation making a resort to deadly force easier in altercations.
* Greg Sargent explains the strategic significance of House Democratic position of refusing to support any budget deal that doesn’t include extended unemployment insurance.
* At TAP Paul Waldman dissects over-interpretation of drop in approval ratings for Obama among millennials—which is pretty much the same as his general drop in approval ratings.
* At Ten Miles Square, Brendan Nyhan suspects David Gergen is recommending himself—or someone much like himself—to run the Obama White House.
* Also at Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein suggests that improvements in the insurance exchange enrollment process could soon make Obamacare a regular old political issue like any other.
And in non-political news:
* Rejoicing among FSU fans as prosecutor announces Jameis Winston will not be charged with rape.
That’s it for today. Let’s close with “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” from Brahms’ German Requiem.
Sen. Rand Paul decamped in Detroit today to open a new GOP office (good luck with that), and while he was at it, pulled out his thin, dog-eared playbook of conservative urban policy ideas, as reported by Slate’s Emma Roller:
Paul’s real mission in Detroit is his new plan to stimulate the bankrupt city’s economy. In a call with reporters Thursday, Paul announced a bill that he insists is not a stimulus. The gist: radically lower taxes for areas that have 1.5 times the national unemployment rate, or roughly 11 percent. As of August, unemployment in Wayne County was at 11.1 percent, and 17.7 percent in Detroit proper.
Yes, it’s “enterprise zones,” the crown jewel of 1980s-style Republican expressions of concern for urban areas, associated especially with HUD secretary and conservative warhorse Jack Kemp. As Roller notes, it hasn’t been a particularly successful idea:
Would insanely low corporate taxes convince Jeff Bezos to build Amazon’s next warehouse in some long-abandoned Detroit building? Would they even convince business owners in adjacent Macomb County—which has an only 9.5 percent unemployment rate—to venture into the city? Critics (as they are wont to be) are skeptical:
“Enterprise zones are not especially effective at increasing overall economic activity or raising incomes for the poor,” said Len Burman, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former Clinton administration official. “They just seem to move the locus of activity across the zone’s boundary — reducing activity outside the zone and increasing it inside.”
Burman might well know, because probably the most extensive application of the enterprise zone concept was actually as a small element of the Clinton administration’s “empowerment zone” initiative, which packaged federal grants with tax concessions in urban areas agreeing to undertake a comprehensive strategy for self-improvement. This was not one of my favorite Clinton policies (as I expressed once in a magazine op-ed that enraged the initiative’s majordomo, a guy named Andrew Cuomo), but it was a lot better than the original GOP model.
But here it is again, a truly undead policy idea.
Once when I was involved in rural development efforts in Georgia I wrote (for the private amusement of my colleagues at the state agency where I worked) a savage parody of enterprise zones by “proposing” that we offer poor counties the opportunity to legalize every kind of income-producing vice: prostitution, gambling, drugs, you name it. They’d be called “erogenous zones.” A quarter century later, enterprise zones haven’t become any less worthy of ridicule.
Freddie de Boer had a pretty good comment on my last post arguing that Econ 101 is not enough when it comes to density and affordable housing:
I do want to gently push back against discussing housing simply in terms of supply and demand. Awhile back, Matt Yglesias criticized left-wing critics of Bill de Blasio who were critical of de Blasio’s connections to shady developers. Yglesias argued (correctly) that a lack of affordable housing in Manhattan is a major humanitarian and quality of life issue. But the New York housing market is a perfect example of the folly of talking about housing in simple terms of supply and demand. De Blasio is not just accused of being too friendly with developers, but particularly with the kind of developers who build housing that actually pushes poor people out and increases housing inequality. And in NYC in general, there’s been a tendency for developers to talk a good game about increasing access to affordable housing, then actually building luxury apartments that no regular person could ever afford.
I do believe that supply and demand act on the shelter supply, mostly because it’s hard to imagine that they don’t. (I don’t think it makes sense to consider housing a Giffen good, for example.) And I do think it’s a reasonable starting point to start building a mental model of how the housing market believes, and I think liberals toss it aside at their peril.
Nevertheless, Freddie is right: housing is very, very far from the frictionless-plane fantasyland of simple supply and demand. As a fundamental component of the American Dream, shelter provision has long been bound up with the national self-consciousness. It’s both a (colossally misguided) national savings vehicle and the marker of upright, virtuous bourgeois status. Anything so fraught will necessarily be bound up with the power structure.
Which is why, while neoliberals and libertarians marshal a good case against the DC height limit, I ultimately part ways when it comes to their fundamental methods for achieving more density. Those folks typically frame their arguments as removing restrictions from “the market” to let the forces of economics work, like it’s as simple as removing a dam to let water flow downhill.
In fact, every market is a human construction, and none more so than the market for housing. Aside from the enormous federal hand in housing finance, it is so because people quite naturally view their neighborhood as something that comes with their particular piece of property, and strenuously resist change, especially change in the form of low-status groups moving next door. Thus, luxury apartments are more commonly built in DC and NYC both because of class consciousness on the part of developers and the prospect of less resistance from the enfranchised bourgeois. This can even mean less profitable structures, sometimes.
This is not so bad as it once was, when housing policy was a tool of explicit racist expropriation. But it still something to keep in mind when considering changes to the existing system. Influence over the political and economic system is correlated by wealth, race, and social connections. “Leveling the playing field” and “allowing more development” could quite easily become a rapid expropriation of poor and minorities, who are less able to assert their views, if the power structure is not taken into account.
(Some anti-height limit crusaders have realized this, and now talk in terms of interest groups and building political coalitions, not just “freeing the market.”)
However, while liberals typically are better about power, their attempts to secure affordable housing are often clumsy. Housing projects are almost uniformly wretched, and often far superior housing stock is bulldozed to make room. Affordable housing mandates get decent places for a few people, but are useless for the far larger number not lucky enough to secure a spot in line. I think liberals underrate as tools markety-sounding solutions like sharp increases in zoning density limits, reducing parking mandates, and directing the increased tax money thus obtained towards housing subsidies for the poor.
Make no mistake, liberals are right that good, livable density will take a grimly determined power struggle. But to circle back to the DC height limit, part of that will almost have to involve changing regulation in the direction of more housing supply. After all, DC is already an extremely expensive place, and only getting worse.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Belated thanks to those of you who offered such kind thoughts about my father’s death and my brief tribute to him yesterday. His memorial service is tomorrow, and Ryan will again be filling in. I hope to be back on a regular schedule by Monday.
Here are some midday news/views treats:
* E.J. Dionne connects the dots between Obama’s big speech on inequality and his defense of the Affordable Care Act.
* Once again, Republican House candidates are being pushed to accept tutoring on how not to sound all piggy piggy when they talk about women, particular women they are running against.
* Recount of VA Attorney General contest, won officially by Democrat Mark Herring but only by 165 votes, will be held the week of December 16.
* TNR’s Jennifer Kirby notes Tea Folk isolated in their opposition to minimum wage increases, at least among the general public.
* Priebus confirms RNC focused on early attacks on HRC. Oh boy, more Benghazi!
And in non-political news:
* JPMorgan Chase warns cash card users of major hacking of system.
As we break for lunch, I can’t really commemorate my father without mentioning Richard Pryor, whom he loved dearly. As you can imagine, most of Pryor’s routines—including the many my father memorized—are not very family-friendly. So here’s a rare clip of Pryor singing on (I think) the Kraft Music Hour. Hope you are as amazed as I was.
At New York yesterday, Jonathan Chait wrote a meditation on the persistence of racism after watching the acclaimed movie 12 Years a Slave. His main point is that the system of white supremacy that began with slavery relied as much on the dehumanization of African-Americans as on chains, and that the many conservatives today who deny white racism exists are largely blind to the more subtle but deadly ways in which black folk have been subjugated long after liberation from slavery.
I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave yet, but did recently during a long night at the hospital re-read portions of The Bloody Shirt, Stephen Budiansky’s 2008 book about the post-Civil War white terror in the former Confederacy that not only thwarted Reconstruction but ensured the former slave population would gain nothing from Emancipation other than the most ephemeral freedom.
The passage in the book that haunted me most was a 1865 letter from Edmund Rhett, a prominent South Carolina journalist, proposing a series of laws designed to keep the ex-slave “as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as is practicable.” His template was an early version of the “Black Codes” enacted in nearly all the former Confederate States, and focused on banning real estate ownership, enforcing unilateral agricultural “labor contracts,” punishing “vagrancy” (defined as being anywhere other than at work for a white overseer), and enforcing “discipline” (including not only penal servitude for “status” offenses but private administration of corporal punishment). These laws were intermittently enforced with occasional disruption by military authorities and Reconstruction state governments, but portions (especially the vagrancy laws) were reimposed across the region late in the nineteenth century. Needless to say, efforts to prevent public education for and voting by African-Americans accompanied the measures to keep them in economic and physical servitude.
Anyone with even a vague sense of history can see the echoes of the “Black Codes” in and beyond the South today. Some have continued more or less since the nineteenth century, such as a judicial and penal system that comes down hardest on the crimes and status offenses of the poor, and a savage opposition to labor rights and collective bargaining. Others are actually experiencing a renaissance, such as a renewed hostility to the kind of credit arrangements that briefly made widespread real property ownership possible, and a resegregation of education via white withdrawal from “government schools.” And then, of course, there are the periodic fights to reduce minority voting and representation. Some of the language we still hear today about those people seeking political power to seize the property of decent white folk are right out of the lexicon of the terrorists resisting Reconstruction and insisting “Black Rule” was inherently ruinous and corrupt.
Chait mentions other contemporary echoes of ancient white racist habits:
Conservatives have made endless jokes based on the strange premise that Obama is unable to express coherent thoughts unless reading from a teleprompter, defined health-care reform as “reparations,” imagined a Reagan-era program to subsidize telephone use for the indigent is actually “Obamaphones,” or complained when black entertainers or athletes socialize with the First Family. The accusations of racism that follow merely confirm to conservatives that black-on-white racism is a canard, that the balance of oppression has turned against them.
Progressives sometimes view this last phenomenon, the denial that white racism even exists, and the claim that white people are the real victims, as something new and strange and based on a flawed but understandable belief that the Civil Rights Act and the dismantling of Jim Crow should close the whole topic to discussion. But this, too, is an ancient meme. The subtext of Budiansky’s book is the extent to which white southerners convinced themselves and white people outside the South that they were the victims of Reconstruction, not the active and passive perpetrators of a strategy of organized terror designed to make the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution a dead letter.
So even if you believe conservatives who talk about white racism as an anachronism or deny their political agenda and messages are racially inflected are acting in good faith, it’s simply undeniable that we’ve heard all this before. The non-racial motivations of individual conservatives cannot blot out the heritage they continue consciously or unconsciously, and minority folk specifically and progressives generally don’t need to apologize for hearing the endlessly devious tactics and rationalizations of the neo-Confederacy when they are offered once again.
Being here in Georgia for a while has made me more acutely aware than before of the particularly exotic and uninhibited brand of Republican officeholders this state now breeds. Sure, it’s hard to miss the antics of a Paul Broun, Jr., even out there in California. But today we learn that longtime pol Ralph Hudgens, who is currently serving as State Insurance Commissioner, is capable of a howler himself, as reflected by this speech to a Republican women’s group last month (h/t Jim Galloway and Daniel Malloy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
The robust laughs of Hudgen’s audience when he compared pre-existing condition coverage to an ex post facto request for auto insurance collision coverage after a motorist causes a wreck is about as disgusting as the stupid analogy itself.
Since he’s an insurance regulator and all, you’d think Hudgens might be aware that the issue here is not some fresh request for coverage after a condition is incurred, but withdrawals of existing coverage by insurers when the insured gets sick, or the refusal to issue a policy when someone is forced into the individual market by, say, the loss of a job or an employer cancelling employee health benefits. Beyond that, of course, comparing getting sick to causing a car wreck is unfathomably dumb and immoral.
Most Republicans dance around the pre-existing condition issue, either pretending to favor non-discrimination even as they oppose the ACA provision outlawing it and favor “interstate sales” that would negate state regulations restricting discrimination. Often they rely on the ragged expedient of state-run “high-risk pools” that create a ghetto of crappy and expensive policies for those denied insurance in the market-place. But leave it to a Georgia Republican to come right out and label sick people denied health insurance as malefactors seeking to defraud poor innocent insurance companies.
A brief passage at the end of a piece by Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner about the budget negotiations going on between Patty Murray and Paul Ryan got to the underlying political dynamics that I’m not sure a lot of folks quite get right now:
Though both Murray and Ryan have been praised for their efforts, it’s unclear how many House Republican votes Ryan could secure for an omnibus spending package at the higher [above the sequester] spending level. Those who would support such a deal — such as appropriators and moderates — would have been there for Rogers and leaders no matter what. The GOP force behind the shutdown was not the establishment, but rather tea-party-inspired members who feel beholden to their conservative base. So the key question over the next few weeks is whether the shutdown changed the political dynamics for the party based on a temporary dip in the polls.
That last phrase—temporary dip in the polls—is what’s significant. After the shutdown ended, there were about five minutes when Republicans paid attention to the damage the whole incident inflicted on the GOP’s approval ratings, before attention shifted to HealthCare.gov’s problems and the numbers all seemed to reverse.
Progressives and the MSM seem to generally believe Republicans “learned their lesson” during and after the shutdown. But what lesson was it? Don’t shut down the government when your opponent’s administration is in the midst of a “scandal” from which you and benefit? Don’t punch when you can counter-punch?
The point here is that Republicans have not had some sort of epiphany that guarantees reasonableness on fiscal issues going forward. Some may for strategic or tactical purposes prefer to make other issues the focus between now and next November, and that could even become the party line. But the idea that GOPers will never again shut down the government or threaten a debt default because of the terrible consequences of what happened in October is off-base. In their minds, the consequences were minor and ephemeral, and now long gone.
As alluded to in the last post, and as pretty much everyone knows who’s being honest about it, a crucial factor in the success or failure of conservative backlash against efforts to extend the social safety net is whether they can be depicted as morally offensive to people who really have little or nothing in common with the wealthy and powerful Americans being asked to pay the freight. And that’s why racial appeals are so important in mobilizing downscale white folks to view themselves as victims or rivals of those people benefiting from our barebones version of the European welfare state.
So the “white working class” is one occasionally lost constituency for efforts to fight inequality. At MSNBC, Tim Noah, who knows whereof he speaks, discusses another:
A century ago the country’s plutocrats, plagued by violent protest from socialists and anarchists, feared that if economic inequality got too far out of hand the angry masses might overthrow capitalism. That obliged them to at least pay lip service to some vague notion of equality. And 50, 40, even 30 years ago, the country’s elites understood that too much inequality would harm the U.S.’s global competition with Soviet Russia for hearts and minds.
Today, the Cold War is over and there’s no chance that capitalism will be overthrown. With the dangers of income inequality no longer self-evident, many Americans wonder why it’s still an issue. President Obama’s speech took a stab at answering that question. Given income inequality’s continuing rise, it probably won’t be the last time he’s called upon to do so.
There are some conservatives, mostly those of a religious bent, who worry to varying degrees about a society of ever-growing inequality. But for most, the save-your-own-skin rationale Noah is talking about is entirely lacking. This could be an additional and virtually unnoticed reason for the rise of radical conservatism of late: it’s no longer considered dangerously self-destructive for representatives of our economic ruling classes to talk about getting rid of the New Deal and Great Society programs and making America an experiment in unregulated capitalism.
Here’s a passage from the president’s speech at CAP yesterday, which was a bit of a watershed, consolidating his varying perspectives on inequality and government’s role in the economy:
[W]e need to set aside the belief that government cannot do anything about reducing inequality. It’s true that government cannot prevent all the downsides of the technological change and global competition that are out there right now — and some of those forces are also some of the things that are helping us grow. And it’s also true that some programs in the past, like welfare before it was reformed, were sometimes poorly designed, created disincentives to work, but we’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class. Investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining and a minimum wage — (applause) — these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of Americans.
Likewise, when previous generations declared that every citizen of this country deserved a basic measure of security, a floor through which they could not fall, we helped millions of Americans live in dignity and gave millions more the confidence to aspire to something better by taking a risk on a great idea. Without Social Security nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty — half. Today fewer than 1 in 10 do. Before Medicare, only half of all seniors had some form of health insurance. Today virtually all do. And because we’ve strengthened that safety net and expanded pro-work and pro- family tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a recent study found that the poverty rate has fallen by 40 percent since the 1960s.
What he’s doing here is challenging the idea that you can defend the “good” government interventions in the economy that are now part of the national landscape while opposing contemporary efforts to expand opportunity and reduce inequality. This strikes directly at the politics of selfishness and self-righteousness that is at the emotional heart of conservative politics at present.
The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race. And that gap is growing. So if we’re going to take on growing inequality and try to improve upward mobility for all people, we’ve got to move beyond the false notion that this is an issue exclusively of minority concern. And we have to reject a politics that suggests any effort to address it in a meaningful way somehow pits the interests of a deserving middle class against those of an undeserving poor in search of handouts.
This can’t be said too often.
This song has been occasionally popping into my head the last couple of weeks: Queen, before they became pop monsters, performing “Father to Son” in 1974, about the same time I saw them at the long-lost Atlanta Municipal Auditorium.
I’m writing this post in one of those massive Atlanta rush hour traffic jams I escaped by moving away nearly two decades ago (only to fall prey to Washington’s equally insane traffic for a good while), so forgive any typos I might commit.
Here are some remains of the day:
* At Religion Dispatches my friend Sarah Posner offers a much less positive take than I did on Mark Pryor’s new “Bible” ad.
* House Democrats looking amazingly united in opposition to an appropriations deal that accomodates sequestration levels.
* Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC after going over the top in criticizing some remarks by Sarah Palin. It’s so, so unnecessary.
* At Ten Miles Square, Seth Masket evaluates House members affiliated with the No Labels group, and concludes the affiliation is less risky than defying one’s party in actual votes.
* Also at Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein challenges the CW that Poppy Bush was undone by his breaking of a no-tax-increase pledge.
And in non-political news:
* Uh-oh: new evidence of health risks associated with drinking bottled water. I prefer the tap, personally.
As we close the day, one more selection from Mozart’s Requiem, as I continue to mourn my father:
Salon’s Brian Beutler, who has been covering the war on the Affordable Care Act with great skill, offers some perspective today on parallels between the Right’s Obamacare obsession and earlier culture war crusades:
[T]he hostility has become so deeply rooted that it now stands on its own, detached from the ideological and partisan antipathies that gave rise to it.
It has forced conservatives to blind themselves to the law’s positive, unobjectionable qualities, and police those within their ranks who dare to acknowledge them….
[O]n the battlefields of partisan warfare, this sort of post-principled contempt, combined with the inception of benefits, has turned the fight over Obamacare from a dispute over first principles, into a culture war, in which signaling matters more than tactical victories.
The repeal campaign — once marked by earnest and sustained efforts to wipe the law off the books — has all but burned itself out. But the law remains a potent political organizing force — a rallying cry Republicans believe they can use to channel the right’s Obamacare obsession into voter turnout.
An astute friend remarked to me on Tuesday that the GOP’s position on Obamacare is coming to resemble its position on abortion in one key way: loudly, consistently, uniformly opposed, but ultimately not really driven to eliminate it. The backlash they’d face would be brutal, but they might stand to gain by fighting it on the margins and keeping the issue alive.
I understand the parallels Brian is drawing, but have never agreed with the argument that conservatives are just toying with the anti-choicers in pretending to want to ban abortion. The reason the Right and the Republican Party haven’t gone full-bore for an actual abortion ban is very simple: it’s patently unconstitutional under the existing Supreme Court precedents. So they’ve sought to erode abortion rights indirectly, and may have actually found an effective formula (we’ll find out in the next Supreme Court term, more likely than not) via the current “supply-side” strategy of sidelining abortion providers through bogus “health and safety” regulations. But without judicial resistance, there’s no doubt in my mind that the GOP has committed itself beyond any hope of reversal to a return to the days of coat hangers, at least in states where they control the machinery of government.
With Obamacare, there’s no judicial resistance to a complete repeal, and it’s true Republicans are not entirely united on—and understand the political shortcomings of—the “replace” part of the “repeal-and-replace” agenda. But if the GOP wins back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, the ACA will almost certainly be repealed (as it would have been, in large part, had Republicans won the Senate and the White House last year). Beutler and others who have made the same argument are right: as Obamacare is implemented, its popularity is likely to increase, and some conservatives could shift to a “Plan B” strategy of using the structure of Obamacare as a model for the privatization of Medicare and Medicaid. But in the near term, it will remain the Great White Whale, and the obsession with bringing it down will continue even if it hurts the Republicans hoisting the harpoon.
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