Back to basics for the GOP

 

In the most widely mocked comment of the day, Mark Needham, the head of Heritage Action, the group that did more to send the GOP on a suicidal mission to defund Obamacare than any other, declared Wednesday on Fox News: “Well, everybody understands that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate and win the White House.” Hmm.

So:

• Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was deceiving voters by saying the GOP could accomplish this by “not blinking.”

• Under false pretenses, Heritage Action was raising money and harassing the offices of Republicans who resisted the phony plan.

• Talk-show hosts and editors of conservative magazines who defended Cruz and Heritage Action were either complicit in the scam or very gullible.

• The Senate dealmakers who rescued the GOP from itself were not “sellouts” but heroes.

• Heritage Action, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, are not “true conservatives” but opportunists.

Well, it’s not like we didn’t point out all that and more.

A Senate Republican, disgusted with the whole charade, told us, “It’s pretty clear that Heritage Action and other special interests own the votes of some Republican members of Congress. We saw it on full display (Tuesday). It’s shameful and embarrassing and, unfortunately, it only makes it more difficult for the many Republicans who want to do the right thing.”

For all the inconvenience, bad press and hardship the shutdown induced, the GOP right-wingers got nothing in the Senate-brokered bill to fund the government through Jan. 15. Some who supported the shutdown are trying to spin this as a victory in “focusing the country” on Obamacare. Baloney. The country would have been more focused if the only narrative these past weeks had been Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, abysmal enrollment and design defects.

Republicans who want to win elections and advance conservative principles should keep in mind the costs of this embarrassment — and the fact that the people in the Senate, House, governor’s mansions and media who tried to steer the party clear of the fiasco might just have a better grip on things than those driving the shutdown showdown.

We don’t know whether an earlier confrontation with the hard right in the House would have spared the party and the country this agony, or whether House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had more support from moderates than the prolonged struggle suggested.

What is obvious, however, is that the Republican Party needs to steer clear of charlatans, stop disregarding evidence of what actual voters want and figure out how to advance voters’ policy goals and electoral interests.

© 2013, The Washington Post

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