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Thinking Long Term

Red State\’s Erick Erickson slams Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his apparently strategy in handling the health care debate in the Senate, which I\’m not sure is entirely fair.

With that being the case, even some House leaders are wondering why McConnell doesn’t simply require unanimous consent on any, or every, amendment that comes to the floor. The maneuver would force Reid to get 60 votes before proceeding on each amendment. And some of the bill’s opponents are suggesting it could sideline it until next Christmas.

Of course, it is looking more and more likely that Mitch McConnell actually wants the legislation to pass. He seems to be gambling that if it passes, he becomes Senate Majority Leader.

Now I\’m hardly a McConnell fan, I\’ve found some of his moves rather naive, bordering on inept in some cases.  But I think there is a strategy there beyond what is immediately apparent. First of all House leaders are hardly unbiased in their concerns, having failed to stop step one of the health care process, they don\’t want to be up to bat for the third out.

And in McConnell\’s defense, this is quite the Rubik\’s Cube of legislation with factions dead set in their ways at every turn.  On the abortion issue alone, threading the needle between pro-choicers and pro-lifers makes getting into heaven seem like child\’s play (to massacre the saying).  It likely wouldn\’t take any intentional delay to take this debate well into next year.

Which brings me to my main point….eventually this debate will end, one way or another.  And McConnell needs to be thinking more than one move ahead, and there we have two possibilities.

If health care passes in some form, public polling indicates the fallout will be particularly tough on the Democrats.  By at least participating in the legislative process, Republicans can at least claim they tried to improve the bill but Democrats overruled them at every turn.  They attempts to make Democrats own the bill sound more credible.

If health care fails, we still have a health care problem in this country, and it won\’t help Republicans if they can easily be portrayed as obstructionists that didn\’t allow the process to create something palatable.  Republicans can point to the failure of Democrat leadership to solve the problem.

Either way Republicans come out on top, and it\’s only be getting more Republicans elected that McConnell has a chance to be majority leader.

Now that\’s not to say Republicans shouldn\’t fight this bill, but using purely obstructionist tactics aren\’t likely to serve well in the long term.  Democrats have proven that they are more than willing to ignore the rules to get what they want, so they can get around any obstructionist moves Republicans can muster.  If Republicans are going to lose a battle they may as well make it Thermopylae rather than Custer\’s Last Stand.