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The Right’s Dilemma

May 25th, 2011

As I recently mentioned, the GOP seems to be painting itself into a corner with the Medicare bill. In a bizarre play of ideological purity, it seems that anyone who does not want to be a pariah in the GOP ranks must embrace a third-rail issue which could devastate their standing with the voters. Gingrich, until now a formidable candidate who spent years building himself up, is now seen as having self-destructed simply by disagreeing on that one issue–an issue which stands to lose the Republicans a safe seat in New York in a few days, one which their constituents are screaming at them in anger about.

In order to get the party’s nomination, there are certain things one has always had to do. Sometimes these things are a bit far out, but recently, it seems that the new GOP line which candidates must toe is so extreme that any candidate must essentially alienate themselves from the country at large before they can become viable in the primary race.

I guess this is what comes from the almost pathological abhorrence to anything connected with Obama, causing Republicans to denounce as evil the very things they themselves proposed as wise and right only years, months, or even just days before. Since Obama is in fact a centrist and embraces a fair number of ideas in the moderate Republican realm, all that is moderate becomes toxic to them, leaving only the more and more extreme positions, the extremist vitriol which candidates must now embrace and celebrate or else be excoriated by their own.

It has come to the point where there is now talk that Paul Ryan, the author of the “Kill Medicare” plan himself, is being seriously considered as a possible presidential candidate. The man who led the party into its lockstep vote which could lose them their only remaining island of political power, the House, which could take away from them even their dwindling chances of winning the White House.

They find themselves now bereft of a safe Republican seat, a seat that the GOP candidate should have won by several touchdowns; losing it to a Democrat, voted down by a predominantly right-wing constituency who have expressed particular dislike for the GOP Medicare plan.

The GOP finds itself more and more facing the wrath of Americans in general, and even more and more of their own voters–not the core, not the base, but those important moderates who don’t want Medicare to be scrapped and replaced with vouchers, and who aren’t all that wild about continuing massive tax cuts for rich people when it is clear that it only helps balloon the deficit and increase the debt. But they have to stand by these issues. It is become an increasingly more difficult balancing act for them, to be able to somehow avoid becoming hated by their base or hated by the electorate at large, or by both by trying to waffle somewhere in a center that no longer exists.

Not that I am not enjoying this, or that it is a richly deserved comeuppance. But it is also morbidly fascinating to witness. I am cautiously aware that I thought the same thing would happen due to the Republican obstructionism back in 2009, and was terribly wrong. Somehow I don’t think I am quite so wrong on this one, though.

  1. Braxton
    May 26th, 2011 at 02:02 | #1

    I came across this article from the WaPo earlier today on my Google Feed and thought you might find it interesting:


    It discusses the danger of the Democrats using Ryan’s plan for Medicare as a political weapon (based on the result of the NY special election) in the upcoming election and painting themselves into a corner when it comes to actually solving the Medicare problem.

  2. Troy
    May 26th, 2011 at 02:37 | #2

    Where the WP guy is wrong is the crux of his argument:

    “But I also can’t say premium support might not be part of the answer — and neither can anyone else.”

    Premium support will not lower medical costs, they will just raise them.

    Elderly care providers will simply charge what the market will bear, and premium supports increase buying power and thus the market price for health care.

    This opinion is just ass-covering by someone trying to explain away getting played by Ryan.

    The only corner being painted is the assertion that vouchers would force the system to move to more care/dollar.

    Not much of a corner here.

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