Imagine if you will, the following interview on your favorite sports network:
ANNOUNCER: Good evening, sports fans, and welcome to “College Football This Week.” I’m your host, Biff Barkley, and today we’re talking to Wing Nuttington, coach of the Fighting Pachyderms of Red State U. Coach, good evening.
COACH: Good evening, Biff.
ANNOUNCER: Coach, I’ll be blunt. Your performance last season was nothing short of embarrassing. You lost every big game. Your offense made dozens of fumbles and unforced errors, your ground game didn’t come near to living up to expectations, and your defense was so inept you would have had trouble stopping a pack of geriatric nuns from crossing the goal line at will. What do you think you need to change in the 2014 season?
COACH: Absolutely nothing, Biff.
COACH: We’re going to come out and run the same strategies and plays, in exactly the same order we ran them last year, with the same people.
ANNOUNCER: But … but why?
COACH: There’s a small group of hard-core fans who love our plays. They’re the people we need to please. Everyone else can go pound sand.
If you heard that from the coach of your favorite team, you’d be screaming for his ouster, if not his actual head. But “do the same thing we lost doing last time, only louder,” seems to be the prevailing strategy of a substantial segment of the Republican Party, and sadly, that’s the one that seems to be in the driver’s seat. “Hey,” they keep saying, “I’ve got an idea! Let’s take another vote on repealing Obamacare!”
In 2012, the Republicans ran hard against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and pulled out all the rhetorical stops in trying to demonize it. It was “socialism.” It was a “government takeover of health care.” How a program that left the majority of the nation’s health insurance in the hands of private companies was a “government takeover” and how a plan that forces said companies to compete in an open and transparent market is “socialism” has never been explained, at least not coherently.
So after the Republicans spent all that time and money hanging the PPACA around the president’s neck, guess what? The American people voted him back in by a substantial margin. And while polls show people still have a negative reaction to the word “Obamacare,” when they’re asked about things like not being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and being able to buy insurance on an exchange where they can compare plans and prices, they think the actual provisions of it are pretty neat.
And yet, even after the election, the Republican House keeps passing bill after bill repealing Obamacare, and every one of those bills is DOA in the Senate. Now, with the insurance exchanges about to kick in, wingnuts like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are trying their most desperate tactic of all: threatening to shut down the government entirely if the PPACA isn’t defunded.
There are a lot of Republicans who remember how the shutdown of 1996 came back to bite the GOP, and they’re not anxious to see that failed play run again. But they’re not in control. It’s gotten so ludicrous that Cruz (much to the displeasure of Speaker Boehner) leaned on House Republicans to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open but defund Obamacare.
He then said he’d “speak against” the bill he himself had supported “as long as he could stand,” because he knew that once the CR hit the Senate floor, the bit about defunding Obamacare would get stripped from it faster than an exotic dancer’s bikini top.
This is the “if we don’t get what we want, we’ll hold our breath till the country turns blue” school of governance, and it reached its nadir Tuesday with Cruz standing in the Senate reading Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” (ironically, a story about someone who claims he hates something until he actually tries it).
Cruz’s strategy to kill Obamacare failed, as, after 21 wasted hours, the Senate proceeded anyway on Wednesday, as already planned. Cruz knew his “fake filibuster” would fail. Everyone but the dwindling number of Teahadist fanatics knew it would fail. Obamacare, passed by both houses, signed by the president and approved by the Supreme Court, will continue to be the law of the land.
But it’s that small number of dead-enders (24 percent of Republicans, according to a May CBS poll, and 8 percent of the total electorate per a Rasmussen survey in January) that Cruz apparently is counting on to propel him to leadership of the far right, the next Republican nomination, and thus to the presidency.
How’d that work for your team last time, coach?