This weekend's health care debate in the House of Representatives underscored the deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans on the issue. There were legitimate fundamental and philosophical differences on both sides that were expressed, for the most part, in a civil manner.
If you leave out the excessive rhetoric from the extremes of both parties there was a remarkable degree of agreement on many issues. As Nancy Pelosi pointed out, despite receiving not a single GOP vote, the bill had incorporated over 200 Republican amendments in the final package.
The public, the press, and certainly the politicians need a break from the excessive rhetoric of the past year. Health care reform will shortly be the law of the land and the public needs time -- away from partisan rhetoric -- to determine how the new law affects them and their families.
To my friends on the left I strongly suggest that a degree of humility is in order. We have fought for decades for yesterday's success. But we need to be mindful that many other Americans fought just as hard to defeat universal health care. It would be in our best interest not to gloat over the outcome.
That said I cannot ignore the outrageous behavior of the tea party activists in Washington over the weekend. When it comes to hurling racial epithets at Rep. John Lewis, one of the greatest of our country's civil rights activists, I fully expected Congressional Republicans to repudiate these thugs.
To my dismay there were some Republican members who actually tried to justify this blatant racism. Couple that with the idiot GOP member, Rep. Randy Neaugebauer (R-TX) who yelled out "it's baby killer" -- referring to the bill -- when Rep. Bart Stupak was speaking (although he has since apologized) and you have one of the most disgraceful performances in the history of the House.
While I reiterate my call to health care supporters to keep their powder dry, I strongly suggest John Boehner and the GOP house leadership get their extremist members back to the zoo where they clearly belong.
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. Click here for more information on Bob Beckel.