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At Long Last, Universal Health Care

The House of Representatives will almost certainly vote to pass health care reform on Sunday. For fifty years we Democrats have sought to make health care a right not a privilege for all Americans. Over that time Republicans have delayed, distorted, demeaned, and outright lied to the American people to destroy health care reform and protect the big insurance companies. There’s no doubt those insurance boys were in "good hands" with the GOP.

Barring some last minute “March Surprise” by the Republicans, their water carrying days will be over sometime on Sunday. Finally no more of Sarah Palins’s uninformed (nothing new there) and sophomoric “death panels” or right-wing talk radio hosts screaming about a “government takeover” of health care or the equally uninformed and uneducated screaming about “socialism.” And maybe we’ll even get a break from the tea party conspiracy crowd with their birthers, blowhards, and militia conspiracy nuts.

I congratulate in advance Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and President Obama who finally found his voice on health care reform in the last month. I might also suggest to the conservative commentators who are not wing-nuts that they cease fire and take time to read the bill before they comment further. I was particularly taken with a Wall Street Journal piece by the normally coherent Peggy Noonan. In her column on Saturday she berated Obama for postponing his trip to Australia suggesting that great damage would be done to what has been a strong relationship.

You can calm down Peggy and take a deep breath. I happened to be having lunch with the deputy Australian Ambassador who was responsible for both the logistics and substance of President Obama’s trip “down under” when the announcement was made. He was not at all upset by the delay and said he would expect Obama to see health care reform to its conclusion. As he said, “If the shoe was on the other foot Prime Minister Rudd (Australia’s new leader) would have stayed in Canberra."

Like so many other Republicans, Noonan has somehow come to believe that the health care reform bill will cause the health care system to disintegrate; throw grandma out of Medicare and into the streets; and throw young people who don’t buy insurance into jail. They apparently bought into Congressional Republicans' distortions meant to scare Americans away from reform.
Their behavior was shameless, their supporters's tactics sordid, and the substance of their debate was nothing less than dishonest. I suspect Republicans will now turn to the regulation of the financial industry (the very people that took us to the brink of a Depression) as yet another important Obama reform to derail. Maybe now the press and the public will take Republican tactics for what they are: stopping Obama at any cost.

If, somehow, in the next 24 hours, Republicans find a way to destroy health care reform, don’t expect me to eat my words. Rather expect me and millions of others to expose Congressional Republicans for the uber-partisan, right-wing demagogues they have sadly become.

Bob Beckel is a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor.

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Bob Beckel currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The Five (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). He first joined FNC as a contributor in 2000 and rejoined in 2011 as co-host of The Five.