Paul Krugman's Op Ed piece in the New York Times is about Missing Richard Nixon. But what it really hits on is how the Republican Party has veered so far to the right that even Richard Nixon's ideology, in retrospect, seems responsible compared to the GOP of today.
So what happened to the days when a Republican president could sound so nonideological, and offer such a reasonable proposal?
Part of the answer is that the right-wing fringe, which has always been around — as an article by the historian Rick Perlstein puts it, “crazy is a pre-existing condition” — has now, in effect, taken over one of our two major parties. Moderate Republicans, the sort of people with whom one might have been able to negotiate a health care deal, have either been driven out of the party or intimidated into silence. Whom are Democrats supposed to reach out to, when Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was supposed to be the linchpin of any deal, helped feed the “death panel” lies?But there’s another reason health care reform is much harder now than it would have been under Nixon: the vast expansion of corporate influence.[...]
Given the combination of G.O.P. extremism and corporate power, it’s now doubtful whether health reform, even if we get it — which is by no means certain — will be anywhere near as good as Nixon’sproposal, even though Democrats control the White House and have a large Congressional majority.