Isn’t This A Little Weird?


From the Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru:

First, is it in Republicans’ interest to take the House? Up until Obamacare passed, I would have said no for some of the reasons Seib lays out. But I think passage raised the stakes. Not taking the House would make it much harder ever to repeal Obamacare, and not repealing it would in the long run be very bad for Republicans.

Second, do House Republicans actually want to take the majority? I have asked that of nearly every House Republican I have met since January 2007. Life in the minority is just as satisfying if you’re in it for the perks; more satisfying, actually, since you don’t have to make appropriations bills go out on time, run committee hearings, etc. Only once, a few weeks ago, have I heard anyone say that more than half of the conference wants the majority.

There’s creating a different reality, and then there’s what Ponnuru is doing here. I don’t begrudge GOP candidates for running on repeal of Health Care Reform–it’s popularity has obviously fluctuated significantly, and a good deal of HCR goes against GOP principles. It’s a good bumper sticker slogan, because it’s to the point and takes advantage of some uneasiness. (Lest anyone get confused by me writing this, I still support HCR’s passage enthusiastically).

In practice, there’s just about no way repeal will ever happen, and I don’t think this is a partisan statement at all. The GOP would have to win 19 seats in the Senate and overcome the massive deficit in the house. Then, and I say this with great hesitation, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden would have to either die, allowing the newly minted GOP speaker of the House to take their place and sign the repeal legislation, or Obama would have to go back on his word, politics, and party, and sign a repeal bill. If, as expected, Obama vetoed said repeal bill, then the GOP would need an even bigger margin to override his veto.

So is Ponnuru, someone who is supposed to be one of this new breed of smart conservative (Douthat, Salaam come to mind) really basing his assessment on a virtual impossibility? That seems to be the case. Again, there’s going on TV and creating some false reality, and then there’s crafting actual strategy based on ridiculously false premises. This is the conservative equivalent of liberals who thought immediate withdrawal of all troops in Iraq was a fair goal. It’s completely disconnected from reality, and is potentially quite harmful to the GOP.

Furthermore, on this idea of “repeal and replace;” it’s simply not possible, and the GOP makes this clear. Sen. Bob Bennett (R) is losing his primary race. In fact, he’s in third. Bennett collaborated with Sen. Ron Wyden (D) on a more market based approach to HCR. I saw flaws in that bill, and I think we pushed the right one, but it was certainly about as reasonable a bi-partisan approach to health care reform one can expect. This brings me to my next point.

Did Ponnuru really just say he’s conflicted about Republicans winning the majority? Or was conflicted before the bill passed? Are people at the Corner really agreeing with him?

This is just sad. It’s like hoping your team loses so they get better draft picks in a weak year for the draft. Meanwhile, you don’t improve in free agency and your coach is still clueless. In other words, I think the GOP might be owned by Al Davis. I’ll look into it.

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