The muddled repeal message, cont’d

THE MUDDLED REPEAL MESSAGE, CONT’D…. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) spoke at Vanderbilt University this week, and touched on right-wing demands that the Affordable Care Act be repealed in its entirety. “The fact is that’s not going to happen, OK?” Corker said.

Of course, for conservatives, the remark isn’t OK. It prompted Corker to run to The Weekly Standard to explain himself.*

Corker told The Standard he only meant that repeal can’t happen next year, not that it can never happen. “It’s an issue of simple math,” Corker said, adding that as long as Obama is president, “it takes 67 votes in the Senate for that to occur.”

But, tellingly, when asked by The Standard if he would commit to supporting repeal in 2012 if a Republican is elected President, he demurred.

That Corker felt the need to scramble after saying something that’s plainly true is itself interesting. He seems to have accidentally told the truth — a definite no-no in Republican circles — which necessitated a walk-back.

But the larger problem for the GOP shows no signs of resolution. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked whether Republicans would be able to repeal the Affordable Care Act before 2013. “Probably not,” he conceded.

But simultaneously, the more unhinged factions of the Republican Party show no signs of flexibility. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has an op-ed in the far-right Washington Times today, and the headline reads, “100 percent repeal of Obamacare.”

Republicans will either stand unanimously together for 100 percent repeal, as we did against the bill, or our ranks will be split and our effort defeated…. No one demonstrated to “kill the most egregious aspects” or “preserve the least egregious aspects” of Obamacare. This is an all or nothing fight from this point forward. Either we will be unified, energized and resolute for 100 percent repeal or we will be divided and deservedly conquered by Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

King’s message was aimed at members of his own party, which hopes to avoid the “repeal trap,” and which quietly keeps conceding that what King and his wild-eyed cohorts keep demanding is not feasible.

By the way, Media Matters now has a running tally of prominent conservative and GOP voices who are either demanding a full repeal or are conceding that a full repeal isn’t going to happen. Both contingents are getting pretty big, and have no use for what the other faction is saying.

If you pass by the headquarters of the DNC, you can probably hear popcorn popping.

* Correction: John McCormack informs me that Corker didn’t run to The Standard, but rather, The Standard contacted Corker. Good to know. The larger point, of course, stands.