In the most widely mocked comment of the day, Mark Needham, head of Heritage Action, the group that did more to send the GOP on a suicidal mission to defund Obamacare than any other, declared on Fox News: “Well, everybody understands that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate and win the White House.” Hmm.
• Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was deceiving voters by saying the GOP could accomplish this by “not blinking.”
• Under false pretenses, Heritage Action was raising money and harassing the offices of Republicans who resisted the phony plan.
• Talk-show hosts and print editors who defended Cruz and Heritage Action were either complicit in the scam or very gullible.
• The Senate dealmakers who rescued the GOP from itself were not “sellouts” but heroes.
• Heritage Action, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are not “true conservatives” but opportunists.
Well, it’s not like we said all that and more. A Senate Republican, disgusted with the whole charade, told Right Turn, “It’s pretty clear that Heritage Action and other special interests own the votes of some Republican members of Congress. We saw it on full display yesterday. It’s shameful and embarrassing and, unfortunately, it only makes it more difficult for the many Republicans who want to do the right thing.”
The Senate-brokered bill would fund the government until Jan. 15, raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, require income verification for those getting Obamacare subsidies (already required under law) and keep the sequester spending limits in place at least through January. For all the inconvenience, bad press and hardship the shutdown induced, the GOP right-wingers got nothing.
Some who indulged the right wing or actively supported the shutdown are lamely trying to spin this as a victory in “focusing the country” on Obamacare. Baloney. The country could have been more focused if the only narrative these past weeks had been the disastrous roll-out, abysmal enrollment and design defects in Obamacare.
Some are pleading to let bygones be bygones. That’s a nice sentiment, but very unconservative and unproductive. If anything, conservatives believe in shaping conduct and policy based on the real world and on human experience. So it is important to remember who did what here — just as conservatives argued on Benghazi, Libya — so the same mistakes won’t be made and people will be held accountable.
Conservatives have gained, if nothing else, some helpful data:
1. Cruz and Lee have no plan to advance the party’s or country’s interests. They are opportunists.
2. Those who followed them were either gullible or ill-intentioned.
3. The right-wing flacks in the media who helped bring about this calamity either don’t understand governing or don’t care.
4. Heritage Action is in the business of making money and/or purging the party of anyone with common sense, not in achieving conservative ends.
5. As a result, Republicans who want to win elections and advance conservative principles should disregard everyone mentioned in items one through four.
6. The people — in the Senate, House, governor’s mansions and media — who tried to steer the party clear of the fiasco might just have a better grip on things than those in categories one through four.
We don’t know whether an earlier confrontation with the hard right in the House would have spared the party and the country this agony, whether the speaker had more support from moderates than the prolonged struggle suggested and whether the persuadable donors, elected officials, activists and candidates will follow the lead of those in categories one through four or those in six.
See, if we don’t remember exactly who did what in this sorry affair, Republicans are likely to go on trusting those in categories one through four and disregarding the advice and leadership of those in six. This is why ignoring the real damage and the actual mendacity associated with this episode is a very, very bad idea.
The party needs to steer clear of charlatans, stop disregarding evidence of what actual voters want and figure out how to advance their policy goals and electoral interests. That’s not going to happen if we give those in categories one through four a pass and fail to appreciate those in category six.