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The Circular Firing Squad

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan.” This remains true and was on full display when the first attempt at repealing Obamacare was pulled before a vote in the House of Representatives.

Since that moment, Republicans have reverted to their old ways and reformed into their default position – the circular firing squad.

A Republican’s critical aim is never more true than when directed toward another Republican. That’s why even when they win, they lose.

Adults don’t assign blame; they take responsibility. Since the failure of “repeal and replace,” finger pointing has become the name of the game.

Who is to blame for what truly was an embarrassing snafu? Everyone.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan never should have set a date for a vote before he had enough votes to win or even a final piece of legislation around which to rally those votes.

The speakership is a powerful, important position, but it’s not God. Simply declaring something will happen won’t make it happen. That arbitrary deadline doomed the bill, and it was unnecessary.

The Freedom Caucus burnt more calories complaining about the bill than articulating a position. It was a bad bill, but where were the alternatives? Where was the case for getting the government out of the health insurance business completely? There’s one to be made. I’ve made it, and it’s not even my job.

Moderate Republicans. Don’t get me started… OK, I’m started. The reason for the “replace” part of “repeal and replace” is moderate Republicans, from the speaker on down. Rather than stand up for constitutionally limited government, moderates ceded the concept of government manipulation of the health insurance market.

Obamacare is a failure not of construction, but of concept. A slightly more conservative version of a progressive idea is still a progressive idea.

President Donald Trump was down for whatever – as long as something passed, he’d declare victory and call it a day. Where was his bill? He’d just won the presidency on the promise of ridding the country of this colossal failure, yet he didn’t come to the table with even a framework.

He supported every version of what the House bill became. It’s easy for people to fall in line behind a leader walking a straight, logical line; it’s impossible to follow someone blowing in the wind because you never know where they’ll be from one moment to the next.

Congress is going to get only one bite at the apple. Screw it up, and Democrats will be back in control, and this time they won’t stop short of single-payer. After seven years of promises, a coherent, conservative alternative remained a bridge too far. It’s not over, it’s not too late…but it is getting close.

Democrats aren’t blameless here either. Not a single Democratic member of Congress is bothered enough by the millions of Americans hurt by Obamacare, the sky-high premiums, or the insane deductibles, to break with their party and admit their ideology’s folly. They’re Dr. Frankenstein swearing all is well while the monster destroys the castle around them.

The real problem is Washington itself. Something – maybe the air, maybe the fluoride in the water – strips people of principles and common sense. Each successive crop of politicians happily stands on the wreckage of their predecessors’ failed Utopian dreams convinced their version of those bad ideas will work because it will be them implementing them.

As the president tweets his anger at conservatives, and conservatives tweet their anger back, everyone is stuck in the mud trying to wash their hands of blame. There’s enough to go around.

Lost in all of this is a simple fact: Once a voter buys into the concept of good and charitable things flowing from government, why would anyone vote for the person offering 50 cents when they can vote for the person offering $1?

If Republicans aren’t making the case for liberty, for limited government, they’re making the Democrats’ case. No one was making an articulate case for liberty in this; making it tirelessly, in an unrelenting way.

Freedom sells. Since the failure of the AHCA, Republicans have worked harder to blame other Republicans for all the blunders than they ever did fighting for freedom’s cause.

Imagine if the GOP fought as hard against Democrats and for stripping their failed policies from the books as they have against each other. Maybe we’d all win for once.

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