How Hysterical Are Conservative Reactions to the Passage of Health-Care Reform?

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Photo: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

If you ask liberals, last night marked a historic moment for America. The House of Representatives, after decades of similar attempts, narrowly passed sweeping reforms of the health-care system with legislation that seemed all but dead after the election of Scott Brown. But conservatives see its passage as historic as well, just in a very different way. While a Democratic congressman compared health-care reform to the Civil Rights Act, some conservative political pundits saw the beginning of America's downfall. Literally. We're not kidding. Here are all the conservative reactions we could get our hands on, in order of the least hysterical to the most hysterical.

• Ross Douthat says that he thinks liberals are wrong, but he hopes they're right. "Indeed, I hope that 20 years from now, in an America that’s healthier, richer and more solvent than today, a liberal can brandish this column and say “I told you so.” Because the alternative would mean that we’re all about to be very sorry, and for a very long time to come." [NYT]

• William Kristol wants Republicans to focus the campaigns of 2010 and 2012 on repealing health-care reform. Though Obama "won a short-term victory," it is "one that will turn out to mark an inflection point on the road to defeat, and the beginning of the end of the Democratic party’s dominance over American politics." [Weekly Standard]

• John Podhoretz says the legislation "draws the brightest ideological and political line between the two parties since the end of the Cold War — which featured a profound conflict of visions about the question of confronting the Soviet Union or accommodating it — and revivifies the Republican party’s role in opposition to the state’s growing encroachment on the particulars of American life." [Contentions/Commentary]

• Peter Suderman thinks that ultimately, "we're left with a highly expensive, fiscally dangerous expansion of health insurance that locks even more people into a broken system. That's an achievement, all right, but not a particularly good one." [Hit & Run/Reason]

• Jennifer Rubin suspects that health-care reform's passage will "set off a firestorm of protest that sweeps Democrats from office and will in due time result in the repeal or roll back of much of the mischief-making." [Contention/Commentary]

• The Wall Street Journal editorial board says that "by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next—to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care. They are now the rulers of American medicine." [WSJ]

• Peter Wehner thinks that while "Obama has certainly left his stamp on history ... the health-care debate has utterly shattered the impression of Obama as a post-partisan, fresh, unifying, and attractive political figure. All his talk about “turning the page” in American politics was cynical nonsense." [NYP]

• Megan McArdle hopes "Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent — I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama's opponent says. But because politicians shouldn't feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them. [Atlantic]

• David Frum, in a sort of reverse hysterics, believes that "it’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for" the Democratic victory "with a big win in the November 2010 elections," but they're probably "over-optimistic about November," and, furthermore: "So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now." [Frum Forum]

• Mitt Romney says that "America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power" and that "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation." [Ben Smith/Politico]

• South Carolina senator Jim DeMint writes that "everything our nation stands for is at risk" when "a president and a Congress collude to violate the Constitution and ignore the American people." [USAT]

• Liz MacDonald of Fox Business News calls the bill an "Enron-style, Bernie Madoff, Worldcom, dot-com bubble all rolled up into one." [Gawker]

• Newt Gingrich thinks the Democrats "'have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s." [WP]

• Representative Virginia Foxx calls health-care reform “one of the most offensive pieces of social engineering legislation in the history of the United States.” [NYT]

• Nile Gardiner calls this "a massive slap in the face for limited government and the principle of individual responsibility. Its net result will be the erosion of freedom in America, and a further undermining of the country’s economic competitiveness. This may be a political victory for the president and his supporters in Congress, but it is in reality a defeat for America as a great power, and another Obama-led step towards US decline." [Telegraph UK]

• The editors of the National Review believe that "Congress has narrowly passed a bill that simultaneously undermines life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." [National Review]

• Mark Steyn is trying to look on the bright side despite predicting that health-care reform will result in "[l]onger wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon." [Corner/National Review]

• John Hinderaker calls yesterday "a dark day in American history; one of the darkest." [Powerline]