“Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel..."
-- The creature, to Victor Frankenstein; Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
Like Frankenstein's creature, Obamacare woke up a few weeks ago, jumped off the slab, and started a chain of political devastation which can only end in its destruction.
Victor Frankenstein spent years laboring, largely in secret (“You have to assemble the monster to see what's in it.”) over his creation, but knew the moment it came to life that this horror would end in catastrophe.
And it did. Tragedy mounted on tragedy, resulting in the utter destruction of everything the brilliant, driven Dr. Frankenstein sought. The creature destroyed his beloved, his family, his friends, his sanity, his reputation, and finally, his life. It wasn't the beginning of a new species that would, as Frankenstein hoped, worship him as a god; it was destruction and envy and wrath coupled with superhuman strength.
The Democrats are now trapped inside the castle watching the line of torches slowly snake up toward Capitol Hill in the gathering darkness. They embraced Baron Von Obama's repeated lies about Obamacare and his inept handling of every aspect of its launch and all the terror of the Obamacare creature, and they're beginning to sense there is no escape.
They know that 5 million peasants have lost their health insurance. They know millions more will see steep premium increases during the 2014 election year. They know the promise of “You can keep your doctor” is as false as that about keeping one's health plan. They know yesterday's “transitional fix” humble-pie press conference won't slow the crash. They also know Barack Obama is nearly a spent force, his credibility and competence now in increasing doubt.
Just a few weeks ago, it was confidently declared that not only would Democrats recapture the House in 2014, but they would hold and increase their Senate majority. The GOP might as well pack up, because they would never hold power again. Obamacare would be the political wind beneath the wings of Democrats for a hundred years. “Of course Democrats would run on it!”
Odd that we're not hearing much of that triumphalism today. The monster of Obamacare isn't just dysfunctional, it's destructive. Americans know it.
Republicans should let the creature rage. Strategic patience takes discipline, because the natural instinct is to stop the monster from tearing down the village. I know you're repulsed by the idea of doing nothing. You feel for the millions of Americans losing their coverage. You want to do something, anything to put points on the board. Most of all, you all want repeal. You sense that it's close.
But I want something else, and so should you. I'd like repeal served in the ruins of the Obama Administration and the Democrats' 2014 hopes. I'd like the Democrats and the media to be stuck talking about this disaster for a year, instead of being able to move on to immigration or ENDA or whatever is bugging Sandra Fluke this week.
If you drag it out long enough, you can make 2010 look like a cakewalk. If you have patience and smarts, you'll see countless YouTube videos of screaming townspeople confronting their Democratic members: angry, pitchfork-and-torches videos of peasants who lost their coverage and who are saddled with enormous premium increases.
We can get there if we avoid doing two stupid things. I'm going to irk the Ted Cruz cadre, but another shutdown will wreck the best political advantage we have ever had against Barack Obama. Another shutdown is the one thing - arguably theonlything - that will revive the media frame of “Evil Republicans vs. St. Obama” effectively. The post hoc ergo propter hoc belief that the shutdown caused Obamacare's troubles is delusional. Obamacare was always going to be an in-your-face stinker that ordinary Americas understood, and for which there was no emotionally effective response by Obama. We just delayed the beatings by a couple of weeks.
Shutdown 2.0 is precisely what Obama needs now. If you pursue it in hopes of repeal, or to build a bigger email list, or for a 2016 primary strategy, then you're responsible for letting the Democrats slip the trap. Oh, and Harry Reid still has the votes to beat you on a shutdown.
We also need to avoid another strategic error: the irrational desire to legislate fixes for Obamacare. The Upton bill is done, and dead in the Senate, but if the GOP starts tweaking Obamacare, Republicans will be responsible for reanimating the monster.
Don't tweak. Offer them full repeal only. Over and over. Upton showed a crack in their coalition. The tension and fear is building. Build a plan to pressure vulnerable red state Democrats. Hang the stories of the victims of Obamacare around their necks. Make them bleed. Make them own it. Stretch out the pain until consumer and voter pressure does your work for you.
It's important to not allow them to make an easy, one-time vote and then run home saying, “I know we built the monster. I know, I was there in the lab. I know I popped champagne when it came to life. But now I'm with you, friends! I voted to fix it! I'm a Blue-Dog centrist! Damn, I wish Baron von Obama had done this better! No one could foresee the creature's murderous rampage!”
No issue has the potential to cause more damage to the Democrats in 2014 and beyond than Obamacare. Let the Democrats' monster rage.