How Not to Play the Minority Party

Yesterday’s House vote unraveled in strange ways, have no doubt about it. The real shocker was not that one Republican (Joe Cao) voted in favor of the legislation. Let’s face it… the guy is from New Orleans and he’s up for election next fall along with the rest of them. No, the real eye opener was exactly how out of practice the GOP seems to be at fighting from the cheap seats. Their opportunity came and went earlier in the day, as Allahpundit pointed out, during the vote on the Stupak amendment which would prohibit the expenditure of any federal dollars for abortions in connection with the Pelosicare bill.

The breathless response from Firedoglake should have told them the whole story. “64 Dems Ask for Primary Opponents.” There were already three dozen more Democrats who had gone on record as saying they couldn’t vote for Pelosi’s bill without the amendment. Hello? McFly! McFly! Is anybody home?

All the Republicans needed to do was march up, one by one, and vote “present” on the Stupak amendment. The Democrats didn’t have enough votes to pass it without them. The amendment fails and the Republicans gain another 25 to 30 votes on the floor for the entire bill. Would it be so hard to go home to your constituents and say, “Yes, I voted present on a very good amendment, but it was in the larger interest of defeating the very bad bill to which it was attached.” I can’t imagine their base holding their feet to the fire on that one.

Unfortunately, the Republicans spent a long time in the majority, and I fear they’ve forgotten how to fight from the minority side. But no matter. There’s still a very, very tough fight to come in the Senate, followed by the effort to combine the two versions into one which can pass yet another full vote in Congress. Stock up on the popcorn. This game is going into overtime.