In the post-“shutdown” analysis, many conservatives pronounced the defund stratagem as flawed. Several House conservatives were pretty hard on themselves, and both the media and establishment parties have been ferocious in blaming the Tea Party specifically.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy offers a different perspective in a weekend column that is a must-read:
It is repeatedly said that the crusade to defund Obamacare was delusional, that it never had a chance. That is an overstatement. Hail Mary passes are tried because they occasionally work. A lot of things have to go right, and the success rate is low. But a Hail Mary is a ray of hope when the clock nears zero, when something has to be done, and when you are out of better options.
So, were we out of better options? I think so. To my mind, if the defund plan was delusional, the GOP establishment’s “repeal Obamacare by winning elections” alternative is delusional squared.
As I have argued before, I think defund/delay had a chance precisely because it was not repeal. The president was not being asked to erase what he sees as his signature achievement. Obamacare would have remained law. But it is a law that was already delayed a few years by design, so pushing for a delay for another year or two was hardly a pie-in-the-sky demand.
Significantly, Democrats were being asked to delay Obamacare under circumstances in which the program is undeniably not ready for implementation. The president could have been made to see that he could look reasonable by delaying and simultaneously mitigate what has been a disastrous rollout — “excruciatingly embarrassing,” as even Robert Gibbs put it.
Democrats were being asked to defund or delay Obamacare under circumstances in which Obama himself had already defunded and delayed major portions of it. The president could have been made to see that he was just being asked to do for everyone what he had already done for corporations, cronies, and Congress.
Earlier this week, David French joined McCarthy in defending the Tea Party – only instead of doing so on a purely tactical level, he pointed out that our effort was the more compassionate:
Not only did the tea-party plan have a chance, it was far less cynical and far more compassionate than the Republican alternative. The Republican alternative to the tea-party plan boils down to this: Let the people suffer (also called ”let Obamacare implode”), then they’ll come to us, we’ll win a buch of elections over several cycles, then we’ll make it better.
Well, step one is working (if that’s the right word to use). People are suffering.…
What’s the Republican response to that? Remember this feeling, vote for us for the next two cycles, and we’ll make it better by 2017? I know the Tea Party’s answer. They laid their political futures on the line to stop a plan that is hurting millions of Americans, and they will keep doing so at every opportunity until this monstrosity is repealed.
Despite merely asking for fairness to all Americans, the mainstream media has gone to extreme lengths to paint the Tea Party as extreme. They ignore the suffering American people will endure Obamacare’s extremely high taxes and premiums. Tea Party members across the country are considered extreme for asking that ALL Americans be treated the same as Congress, Big Business, and other well-connected special interests.
Was the delay effort a Hail Mary? Absolutely. As McCarthy points out, however, the alternative – waiting at least two election cycles and hoping the GOP wins enough seats to have the guts to repeal Obamacare – is all but fantasy. Remember, it was the GOP who expanded the federal government’s reach in 2011 with No Child Left Behind and added an expensive drug entitlement program to Medicare.
No plan is without flaws, and the delay effort was not perfectly executed. But the alternative was to let the American people suffer in exchange for hoping the GOP could get things right later on.
President Obama proved in his first term hope is not a strategy. The GOP’s use of it now is negligent.