It's hard to overstate the magnitude of the GOP's strategic failure here: Obamacare's launch has been awful. More than a week after the federal insurance marketplaces opened, most people can't purchase insurance on the first try. But Republicans have chosen such a wildly unpopular strategy to oppose it that they've helped both Obamacare and its author in the polls.<quoted text>
If he had acted on it immediately, there wouldn't have been the need for the Fisher House to intervene after it was headline news for two days.
But we never know when the president knows anything. And what he should do now is fire Hagel immediately.
But he never fires anyone or holds anyone accountable for anything either. Everyone keeps going about their business. And the liberal media just keeps their mouths shut. Nice arrangement.
This could've been a week when Republicans crystallized the case against Obamacare. Instead it's been a week in which they've crystallized the case against themselves.
And for what? In 2011, when Republicans last tried serious hostage taking, they managed to drive down both their numbers and President Obama's numbers. But even if they could manage that now -- and while the NBC/WSJ and Washington Post/ABC News polls both showed some improvement in Obama's numbers, an AP poll showed deterioration -- this isn't 2011.
In 2011, President Obama was going to be on the ballot against a Republican candidate who wasn't involved in the mess in Washington. The congressional GOP's kamikaze mission made sense as a way to aid an outsider challenger like Mitt Romney. But Obama won't be on any more ballots. Congressional Republicans will be. At this point, it's not a kamikaze mission. It's just suicide.
Senior Republicans -- who never wanted to be in this mess in the first place -- are increasingly desperate to get out. On Thursday, House Republicans floated a six-week delay of the debt ceiling and Senate Republicans floated a proposal that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling in return for repeal of the medical-device tax and a handful of other minor concessions.
Democrats didn't jump at either proposal. Their position is no policy negotiations until the government is reopened and the debt-ceiling is raised and they're seeing nothing in the polls to change their mind.
The problem for Republicans right now is they still believe they need to get something, anything, in return for funding the government and paying the bills. They promised their base concessions and they feel they need to deliver. But as of yet, they're still not prepared to give anything up -- at least not anything Democrats see as a concession.
The hope was that the pain of the shutdown and the Democrats' fear of the debt ceiling would give the GOP leverage. But all Democrats are seeing is a disaster for the GOP. And at this point, the GOP is seeing it, too.