Messaging matters in politics, but so does timing. Suppose the Republican leadership had worked with the White House this past year to craft a health care bill that, though opposed by both the purer elements of both right and left, could pass the House and Senate; suppose too that this bill actually worked. Who gets the credit for that? Not the Republican party or Republican candidates across the country, that's who. No, it would be the President's triumph and his alone.
(I'm assuming, for the sake of this argument that the bill would have covered 30m Americans, controlled or lowered costs etc.) It's Obama who would have reaped the electoral rewards from this process. So what, rationally, does it profit the Republican party to help him achieve that aim?
You might argue that this is a form of political nihilism or that it's putting party before the national interest and you might well have a point. But the country is, much of the time, a secondary concern. Parties exist to win elections and then - and only then - take measures they believe are in the national interest. Helping the other mob win isn't part of their brief.
If this is truly the case, and if the GOP is prepared to use a filibuster to prevent any change, then we basically have a pattern in which the only changes to the Bush-Cheney disaster would be to move the republic to even more extreme "right" positions: national bankruptcy because of endless entitlements, soaring health costs and ever-expanding and costly empire.
I do not believe that, given the fiscal and healthcare crisis we are in, that we should simply surrender to the basest impulses of partisanship. And I believe that was the core message of the Obama candidacy. And if this opportunity is simply thrown away, the bitterness will deepen, the polarization will widen, the public cynicism will explode and the country will truly pass the point of no return on its core and pressing problems.
And when good folks like Reihan and Alex simply endorse all this, it's enough to make one despair.