Some conservatives, notably RedState’s Erick Erickson, are quick to blame Senate Republicans for failing to block the expected passage today of Harry Reid’s legislation to overhaul our nation’s health care system. And while to be sure, the GOP reaction has been far from perfect, with Erickson himself offering some sound criticisms, on the whole, Senator McConnell has done a remarkable job. He held his caucus together, even Republicans eager for media accolades as well as moderates from a state where John McCain got barely 40% of the vote and carried only one remote county.
To fault Republicans from blocking Obamacare (and some say it could still be defeated) is to look at a football team which starts the game on its own 20 yard line, with 50% fewer men on the field than its opponent who has home field advantage. The referees are favored the larger lineup. And with home field advantage, the opponents have packed the stadium with supporters eager to cheer them on and jeer the GOP team, pelting them with snowballs, tomatoes and rocks. To be sure, our team has managed to sneak a few supporters into the bleachers. And they held their own as the home team used fisticuffs to silence them, attempting to bite off their fingers and smear them as haters for daring to attend the game and root against the ol’ home team.
While it suffered all these disadvantages, our team still managed to slow the opponents’ advance, holding it back even as the refs continued to give the home team a new set of downs for only marginal advances.
Yes, Republicans did make a few mistakes along the way, but they were playing against a team which plays by its own rules. And even under those rules, that team still had to fight to score a touchdown. With today’s vote, Senate Democrats give their team a new first down, but they still haven’t yet crossed the goal line. They may be on the one-yard line, but other teams have made it that far and failed to score. We can still block them yet.
For those who think Senate Republicans haven’t been doing their job, consider this: President Obama wanted to sign health care reform before the August congressional recess. Even if the Democrats vote on it today, he won’t be signing it before Christmas.
Let’s not blame the GOP for minor errors in a game where the Democrats had many easy opportunities to score and where Republicans had no chance of victory. Senate Republicans may not have played the best defense they could, but, in the end, they proved to pretty solid given the forces arrayed against them.
Just look at the lengths to which the Democrats had to join to pass a bill in a legislative chamber where they hold 60% of the seats.