Things just keep getting weirder in the health care debate.
There has been a spate of high-profile Republicans who have made statements vaguely in support of some kind of health care reform. These include former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and even another former Senate Majority Leader, the loathsome Bill Frist (R-TN). Then, last night, Erick Erickson, from Redstate.com reported this:
I am told quite reliably that in a meeting today on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators began to rapidly move toward concessions on health care because they are afraid they cannot hold their members. Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program. --Erick EricksonErickson later updated his post, playing down the possibility of GOP capitulation with this:
I’m hearing this evening from both some Senators in the room and staff that the fears of GOP caving are overblown and we should not be concerned. --ibidThe update sounds to me like a hastily constructed anonymous assurance from some freaked-out Republican staffer who is trying to tamp down a fire. If the original report is true, the GOP is right now trying to come up with an equivocating message that will allow them to support health care reform while maintaining a facade of opposition.
And check this: even House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has made noises about a sudden willingness to compromise. Quoth he: "What I think would behoove all of us in this country would be to see if we in Congress could try to work together for a change.
No sh*t, Eric? That's quite a turnaround from earlier in the year.
Not to toot my own horn too much, but I did predict last Friday that the health care debate would be won by those of us who advocate real reform, including a public option. Now, it looks like Republicans are starting to see the writing on the wall.
If this does play out with congressional Republicans capitulating and voting for reform, there are a number of implications:
- Some elements of the GOP are finally realizing that the tea-bagger support that they have been soliciting is doing them more harm than good in terms of how they are viewed by the general public.
- President Obama and his staff end up looking positively ingenious. Even at the height of the tea-bagger sturm und drang, Obama never relented in his calls for bipartisanship, leaving the door open for Republicans who might secretly want to get on board, but who were afraid to buck their caucus leadership. The administration even resisted the increasingly angry outcries from their own base (including this author). That was something the Bush administration never would do.
- This whole game, even the implied threat of a GOP filibuster has been a gigantic bluff by the Republican leadership. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner could very well end up looking like fools yet again. (Mercifully, they're probably used to it by now.)
And it ain't gonna be pretty.