Consider some of the ways in which the rollout of Obamacare has played in the news over this past week:
- We are informed by Todd Park, the chief technology officer of the United States (yes, we have one), that the reason there have been bugs in the health care exchange websites that have made it all but impossible to sign up for health insurance is that there have been oh-so-many people who have tried to sign up. Apparently, the fault for the bugs lays not with those who designed and rolled out the sign-up system, but with those who actually tried to sign up. Or, in Park's words "These bugs were functions of volume. Take away the volume and it works." There you have it; if only people didn't try to sign up for the health insurance exchanges, the websites for the health insurance exchanges would be functioning just fine. This is one of the more Scooby-Dooish statements I have ever had the misfortune of stumbling upon. If the Obamacare rollout were an animated television show, Park would be the one at the end of the episode who shakes his fist, declaring that "the health insurance exchange websites would have worked too, if it weren't for you crazy kids trying to sign up!"
- Meanwhile, the secretary of the treasury desperately tries to avoid telling us whether anyone actually has signed up for Obamacare. He even tries to tell you that the issue isn't his "primary area of responsibility." This isn't quite true, given the fact that the IRS is responsible for taxing people who don't get health insurance and that the IRS is part of the Treasury Department, but never mind, I guess; Jack Lew clearly wants to wash his hands of this entire mess.
- And just out of curiosity, do you think that there are other stories out there like this one? Me too.
Now gee, if only there were a way to get the media to focus on all of these problems instead of allowing the media's attention to be divided by, oh . . . say . . . a government shutdown that has no strategy or tactics behind it. Yes, I know, much of the media is biased against Republicans and in the best of times, it is like pulling teeth to get reporters to cover stories that my feature the Obama administration making a boo-boo or several. But that doesn't mean that Republicans have to give the media an excuse not to cover the failures of Obamacare's implementation by giving the media targets to shoot at on the Republican side.
A number of people in this cross-posted thread protested my rant, because they believe that I am not providing constructive suggestions on how Obamacare can be repealed. Fair enough. I am glad to provide constructive pieces of advice. Here is one: Win elections.
"Well, duh, Pejman," I hear you cry. But the point is worth making, given the fact that Republicans have increasingly opted for ideological purity over being able to get moderates and independents to join Republicans in a coalition on general election days in order to get Republicans into political offices. I know that there are people out there who are sick and tired of hearing about Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, Sharron Angle and Richard Mourdock, but let me tell you about Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, Sharron Angle and Richard Mourdock. They all won Republican primary elections they had no business winning if the Buckley Rule were still being observed with any degree of faithfulness.
To be sure, the people spoke in all of those Republican primary contests, and I respect the people's wishes, but if the people wanted to choose candidates who could win Senate seats in Delaware, Missouri, Nevada and Indiana, they chose . . . poorly. O'Donnell spent much of the election trying to convince people that she wasn't and isn't a witch (not exactly the kind of thing that a candidate dreams of discussing in his/her stump speech). Akin poured gasoline on his campaign and set it on fire (thus helping Claire McCaskill, who was, by far, the weakest Senate incumbent in the 2012 elections win by over 15 points on election day). Angle allowed a very vulnerable Harry Reid return to the Senate so that he could continue to be a noxious presence on the national stage. And Mourdock looked at Akin's campaign and said to himself, "self, that fellow seems to have some good ideas about how to lose an election," and followed through in implementing those ideas. In Mourdock's case, it is worth noting that he denied former Senator Richard Lugar a renomination to run in 2012. Lugar--does anyone really need to point this out?--would have won the general election in a walk and would have allowed Republicans to focus their energies on helping other candidates in other races. Instead, Mourdock ended up losing the general election, and as everyone and their pet canaries know, once incumbents get into office, it is very, very, very hard to get them out. The Indiana senate seat once occupied by Lugar may be in Democratic hands for a long time.
Lest anyone think that this shift away from electability is an accident, bear in mind that it is actually being encouraged by higher-up muckety-mucks in the conservative movement, with former Senator Jim DeMint being the most visible among the higher-up muckety-mucks in question. DeMint has said in the past that he would rather have candidates who adhere to conservative principles than have a Senate majority. I am all for smart candidates with conservative principles, just as I am all for smart candidates with libertarian principles as well. But not every state is as open to conservative or libertarian principles as DeMint or I would want those states to be. So--gasp!--sometimes, the Republican candidate is going to have to be less conservative than Jim DeMint would like in order to win an election.
I know, I know, grab the smelling salts; sometimes, we may have to make common cause with people who are less conservative than Jim DeMint would like. Well, it's either that, or Republicans will have to be a permanent minority in the Senate, and the House of Representatives as well, if DeMint's principles extend there. And hey, if DeMint would rather have a conservative presidential candidate than win the White House, then say goodbye to 1600 Penn. Ave. if anyone has the temerity to offer a more pragmatic course of action that may help Republicans win a presidential election. All of this, of course, would give Democrats a free hand to implement policies of their choosing with little to no organized Republican opposition. And once those policies are in place, they will be very difficult to dislodge.
So, while "win elections!" would seem to be really obvious advice, there are, alas, Republicans and conservatives out there who do not have a grasp on the obvious. And that is costing Republicans--and the right-of-center movement in general--very dearly.