The House Republican caucus is an insane asylum divorced from reality.
That, essentially, was the complaint waged by Washington Post reporters David A. Fahrenthold and Ed O'Keefe in the first six paragraphs of their page A2 May 16 story, "A persistent GOP battle against health law":
Doing the same thing over and over again — and expecting a different result — is supposed to be the definition of insanity.
On Thursday, it is the only thing on the calendar for the House of Representatives.
Since Republicans took over in 2011, the House has voted five times to repeal President Obama’s health-care law. It has also voted 31 other times to repeal individual pieces of the law or to strip away its funding.
Still, on Thursday the House will do it all once more — voting on a new bill to repeal the law. It will pass again. Then it will die in the Senate, again.
People will laugh. Again. But, in the odd world of Congress, this behavior has a certain kind of logic.
In their fight to defeat the law, Republicans believe the only way to success is to keep making a show of their failure.
Fahrenthold and O'Keefe then turned to quote Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), "a freshman who campaigned on his opposition to the law," for his rationale, but then groused, "After 36 votes, don't people get that [Republicans oppose ObamaCare] by now?"
"I think they do," Bridenstine told the Post reporters, but "[a]s this thing gets closer [to full implementation], there's a lot more people who are understanding how it impacts them and their daily lives."
That is indeed true, as recent polls show low favorable ratings for ObamaCare. But more shocking is that a significant minority of Americans don't even know ObamaCare is currently the law of the land. As ABCNews.com noted late last month -- and which Fahrenthold and O'Keefe failed to notice (emphasis mine):
A new poll finds that many Americans are confused about the health care overhaul legislation commonly called “Obamacare.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a non-partisan study today finding more than 40 percent did not even know the law was in place.
“Four in ten Americans (42%) are unaware that the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is still the law of the land,” the report says, “including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is.”
The survey showed public opinion on Obamacare is at its second-lowest rating in the past two years.
Less than half – 40 35 percent – of adults viewed the ACA favorably, whereas 35 40 percent said they viewed it unfavorably. Another 24 percent said they did not know or refused to answer.
With numbers like that, it's pretty clear a significant number of Americans are not plugged into the political debate and hence additional votes for repeal make sense to, well, to borrow a favored term of liberals, "raise awareness" of the law's flaws. What's more, every single time the Senate has scuttled a repeal bill, it's not been with an up-or-down vote. One would think that if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is so confident in his caucus's stance on ObamaCare, he'd be fine with calling it up for a vote so he can kill it with a resounding "no" on the record. Of course, in all the media coverage on these ObamaCare repeal votes, the liberal media never pressure Reid to explain what he's afraid of -- given his healthy Democratic majority in the Senate -- when it comes to an up-or-down vote on repeal.
The Post writers waited until 20 paragraphs deep into their 31-paragraph story to confess that "Congress is a theater just as much as it is a legislature" and so "public failures such as these -- if played right -- can become a path to success." For explain, they turned to Senate historian Donald A. Ritchie, who noted that in the late 1800s, the House repeatedly called for an amendment to require U.S. senators be directly elected by the people, not by state legislatures.
"They eventually got their way in 1913," Fahrenthold and O'Keefe observed.
The Post's attack on House conservatives for a principled if perhaps quixotic push for repeal of ObamaCare is much like the paper's attacks on Ted Cruz. In both cases, conservative Republicans are doing what they campaigned on, even if the Washington establishment finds it embarrassing or, worse, "insanity."