Glutton for punishment

GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT…. Yesterday morning, there was widespread talk that Senate Republicans, recognizing the writing on the wall, would scrap their plans to delay the health care vote until Christmas Eve. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) organized a conference meeting, and at the top of the agenda was a discussion on “whether they should halt their efforts to the delay the bill.” Asked if GOP members would go along, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said, “We’ll see.”

This would be reasonable. After yesterday morning’s vote, it was clear Democrats have the votes they need to pass health care reform. Why delay the inevitable? Republicans could simply stop their obstructionist tactics, get the vote over with, tackle the debt-ceiling measure (that they would have to return to the Hill to approve shortly after Christmas), give their staff a break, and let everyone head home for the holidays. It made sense that the caucus would reevaluate the pointless plan.

And given what we know about Republican senators, it also made sense when they decided to stick to the original plan.

Senate Republicans say they are sticking to their guns and will continue to drag out passage of the Democrats’ health care reform legislation, forcing the chamber to remain in session through Christmas Eve.

During a luncheon of the GOP Conference Monday, Republicans discussed whether to drop their filibuster or find some other way to allow lawmakers to break camp before 7 p.m. Thursday, when the Senate is scheduled to cast a final vote on the health care bill.

But while some Members had expressed interest in getting out of Washington earlier than expected, the Conference still plans to stick it out to the bitter end.

What’s odd is that this petty, spiteful nonsense doesn’t serve any meaningful goals at all. It doesn’t affect the legislation; it doesn’t change public opinion; it doesn’t actually accomplish anything except annoy their families and their aides. As far as I can tell, the only people who actually want as many delays as humanly possible are rabid far-right activists who don’t want Republicans to “roll over” on this. They’d be annoyed if the GOP threw in the towel, but they’ll be annoyed anyway.

So, the pointless delaying tactics continue because Senate Republicans, in effect, fear that right-wing bloggers and Rush Limbaugh listeners will complain if they don’t. And that’s more important than senators spending time with their families during the holidays.

I don’t understand it, either.