For Republicans, this must feel like waking up after a wild weekend party to find yourself surrounded by a sea of empty cups and garbage, some stoner asleep on the kitchen table, and your dad’s car in the swimming pool.
In other words, it was fun while it lasted, but now kids it looks like you’ve GOPed yourselves.
The calamitous collapse of their long-awaited effort to repeal Obamacare was more than just an embarrassment (they had seven years to get ready — I think cities host the Olympics with less prep time), it was a screaming wakeup call to a bitter reality.
Despite all that unhinged joy over coming into 2017 holding both houses of Congress and the Oval Office, they are a deeply divided party which has no current way to take advantage of their rollicking victories last fall.
Effectively, the Republicans are three parties right now. I call them 1) The Modicans — meaning those beleaguered moderates from districts with sizeable numbers of Democratic and/or Independent voters who favor a middle-of-the-road approach to governing. 2) The Mainicans — those who hold traditional conservative views but understand compromise is sometimes necessary. And 3) The Abstainicans — these are the Freedom Caucus folks — the whirling dervishes of DC. They take conservatism to DefCon 1 every second of every day, and would rather burn their own party to the ground than concede a single point in any argument.
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In the healthcare debate, those three factions unleashed such claw-and-fang fury they doomed the effort from the start. The bill had to be pulled. The new president had to admit defeat. And of course, Democrats rejoiced — prancing around Capitol Hill, waving handkerchiefs, and whooping like Little Leaguers who’d just won the championship because the other team forfeited.
So only one question matters in DC politics at this moment: Is this the permanent state of the GOP — or have the Modicans, Mainicans, and Abstainicans learned anything from the debacle?
My bet is they have not, because politicos of any stripe seldom do. And that could oddly leave the powerless Democrats in a surprising position of power.