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Alexander: Obamacare a "Brazen Act" Like Watergate

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on "The Early Show," December 7, 2009.
CBS
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on "Face the Nation," Sunday, March 14, 2010.
CBS
On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said that Democrats poised to push through the health care reform bill with a 51-vote majority in the next several days are on a "kamikaze mission," and are heading for a "political wipeout" in the upcoming November elections.

"No big piece of social legislation has been jammed through by a partisan vote," Alexander told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer. "Johnson had Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- all had 70 votes."

It's understandable that Alexander and the Republican Party aren't happy with the Democratic bill and hope they can at least gain a political advantage if they can't stop the president from signing it into law. 

What's isn't comprehensible is Alexander's comment comparing President Obama's quest to offer health insurance to 30 million more Americans, at an outsized cost of $1 trillion, with the Watergate years of President Nixon. 

"Through elections, through town meetings, through consistent public opinion surveys, Americans have said 'Don't pass this bill.' And this is the most brazen act of political arrogance that I can remember since the Watergate years. Not in terms of breaking the law but in terms of thumbing your nose at the American people and saying 'We know you don't want it, we're going to give it to you anyway," Alexander said.

"I hope what the House Democrats decide is, 'We don't want to do that. We don't want a year like 1974 when people came down out of the mountains in Tennessee looking for Republicans so they would know who to vote against. We want to work with the Republicans and try to let people buy insurance across state lines,' to the other things we suggested at the health care summit and reduce health care costs."

The White House is betting that the votes for the health care bill's passage will be there. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was confident the President Obama would sign the bill before leaving for histrip to Indonesia on March 21

If Mr. Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't pull the votes together, the Republican Party will emerge triumphant, and it will be difficult for the Obama administration to pass any major legislation. 

But, Obama's health care quest is no Watergate. It's a "Hail Mary" pass to do what past presidents and Congresses have been unable to do. While giving up on bipartisan efforts and bypassing the Republicans can be considered a kind of political arrogance, there is no cover up, paranoia or dirty tricks. It's a president willing to risk his job for social rather than political gain.

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    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.