Back in a happier time – before the days of locker rooms and anatomically questionable metaphors, the candidate Mr. Trump followed-up a now-tepid insult to Senator John McCain by saying “I prefer guys who didn’t get captured, okay?”
Well, Mr. Trump, he evaded capture last night – how do you like him now?
In dramatic fashion, Mr. McCain put a final stake through the vampire's heart of the GOP’s ObamaCare horror show. His deciding vote culminated 6 months of historically zealous, sloppy, secretive, sexist and futile-from-the-outset attempts by Republicans to translate their Congressional majorities into law. Law that was supported by about 17% of the people they purport to represent (but most of the money).
The GOP Healthcare Follies went something like this:
Act 1, Scene 1. House: oops.
Act 1, Scene 2. House: we know that this bill is an organic remnant that nobody wants, and that it hurts 20 million Americans - but surely, the Senate will fix it, so here you go!
Act 2, Scene 1. Senate: we know this bill’s going to be a stinker, so we’ll craft it in a secret treehouse, then rush it through before anybody knows what they’re voting on.
Act 2, Scene 2. Senate: Oops.
Act 2, Scene 3. Okay then, we’ll make it worse, then try again – and if that doesn’t work, we’ll make it much worse, and add a dose of chaos – and if That doesn’t work, we will pass a bill that is an incomprehensible shell of an organic remnant that nobody wants, and that hurts 15 million Americans, but surely, the Conference will fix it.
Act 3: Senators Murkowski, Collins and McCain (and 48 Dems): Not so fast.
The End, for now. This serial comedy may not have a long run in prime time.
I must admit that I sold Sen. McCain short after he had earlier voted ‘yes’ to bring the GOP bills to the floor, and then excoriated his colleagues about not working together to compromise and govern on behalf of We, the People. Those words seemed empty after he cast the deciding vote to continue the partisan travesty described above. Had he voted ‘no’ then, we’d have ended up right where we are now, but sooner.
Instead, he gambled on the steadfastness of Senators Collins and Murkowski (for once he was right about an Alaskan!), and took this wretched melodrama down in a most climactic fashion – after all other options had been rejected. It was per-fect, and I am sorry to have doubted him.
So, what now? In those happier, saner times, the Parties would drop back and begin to craft legislation that stabilizes the insurance markets, and hopefully even completes the expansion of Medicaid to the recalcitrant states that have so far refused to assist their citizens. Despite a rough start and a seven-year propaganda campaign that has forecast implosion perpetually just around the corner, the ACA has worked to expand coverage and /gasp/ improve the lives of “our friends, our families – people worth fighting for” (in the words of NV GOP Gov. Sandoval).
ObamaCare’s premiums escalation problems and rural gaps have been caused primarily by political uncertainty fomented by those who wish it ill. Insurance markets are built on probabilities – when there are large ‘unknowns’ in those analyses, monetary buffers get built-in in advance. Those uncertainties can be resolved politically, and well might be in those earlier eras.
Will the Congress take heed of Mr. McCain’s stirring words? Stay tuned. In the meantime, take a moment to lift a glass to a true statesman of several eras – he's an heroic warrior, of several eras, who deserves every American’s continued respect and admiration for once again elevating principle over cynical ideology and worse, in the heat of battle.