Boy howdy, are Republicans having them some fun right now! And why not? Less than a month ago they were being ridiculed from sea to shining sea as incompetent thugs who couldn’t pull off a hostage caper, in part because they were at each other’s throats. The big question among political observers was whether disgust with the GOP would or would not be sufficiently strong to enable Democrats to overcome the extraordinary and multiple barriers to a House takeover next year. And beneath it all, the ultras who were behind the government shutdown and the debt default threats were wailing that once implemented, that great engine of totalitarianism, that extinguisher of human freedom and enabler of looters and libertines, the Affordable Care Act, would be irreversible, and darkness would fall over the planet.
Now you have congressional Republicans mainly arguing over whether to stay out of the way altogether or to offer legislative “fixes” to Obamacare’s problems that they know would create vastly larger problems down the road. And you have jokers like National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg not only proclaiming Total Victory over the great while whale of Obamacare, but Total Victory, apparently, over liberalism forever, world without end, amen:
If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.
If, as the example of Medicare Part D indicates is entirely possible, the exchange enrollment problems abate, and people stop reading daily stories about the futility of trying to access HealthCare.gov, and instead start using it, and those with canceled individual insurance policies know they’re not going to left without insurance, and in general everyone calms down, all this conservative dancing in the end zone is going to look a mite foolish.
But more than that, it will look characteristic of a political party that has become obsessed to the point of Ahab-like derangement with making sure this country never, ever has a quasi-universal system of health coverage, that “American exceptionalism” forever must involve the full assumption of “personal responsibility” for medical misfortune.
As Mike Tomasky rightly said yesterday:
The current situation is serious. But I remember a lot of other times when it was supposedly curtains for Obama, too, because inside the Beltway, the more disciplined Republicans, who after all are in the luxurious position of just sitting back and firing away, have an easier time winning news cycles. But out beyond the Beltway, the party that shut down the government for three weeks and killed immigration reform and wants to decimate food stamps and can’t even pass its own spending bills doesn’t look very appealing to most people. The fate of Obamacare can be changed. The DNA of the GOP cannot.
And Republicans will take advantage of every opportunity to prove just that as the struggle to implement the Affordable Care Act continues.