By John David Dyche
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky served the country well by doing a deal to reopen the government and prevent America from defaulting on its obligations. McConnell put the country’s best interests ahead of partisan politics and is rightfully winning widespread national praise for it.
His fellow Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee led a political suicide mission that some Kentucky legislators regrettably joined. Their strategy that never had any chance of success, and these smart guys succeeded only in killing the party’s approval ratings.
The futile war to defund Obamacare took national attention away from that law’s disastrous debut. Instead of focusing on dysfunctional exchanges, skyrocketing premiums, and other Obamacare outrages, the GOP got blamed for shutting down the government and bringing the country to the brink of fiscal calamity.
The Kentucky political press corps is leading cheers for Obamacare and its new team captain, Gov. Steve Beshear. With no legislative accomplishments of his own and no future races to run, Beshear belatedly adopted Obamacare as his life’s calling.
Meanwhile, McConnell’s would be Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, heeds liberal Louisville congressman John Yarmuth’s advice to keep her mouth shut about the unpopular and misnamed Affordable Care Act. But “LunderGrimes” cannot escape Obamacare or the anti-coal and anti-gun policies of national Democrats.
It should surprise nobody that Kentucky’s health care exchange works better than Obama’s national one. Republicans have long known that state governments do most things better than the federal government does.
The GOP wishes Washington would block grant Medicaid money to the states so they could use it free from federal red tape and regulations. But Beshear brags about expanding Medicaid even though it is already an administrative nightmare that the best study shows to be ineffective at actually improving health outcomes.
It is not surprising that lots of Kentuckians are signing up for Obamacare. One thing that Kentuckians excel at is getting on board for federal entitlements and subsidies.
The shutdown not only obscured the fact that Democrats are doing nothing to promote economic growth; it gave them an excuse. Obama offers only bigger government and higher taxes while Beshear has no pro-growth tax reform plan.
Before the next national crisis begins Republicans should offer some specific, common sense, center right proposals to get the economy moving. Forget quixotic crusades to reinstate the constitutional limits of 1789, desirable as those might be, and focus instead on practical solutions.
Several GOP governors are succeeding with a pragmatic, problem-solving approach. These state chief executives provide dramatic contrast to ideological extremism of conservative zealots like Cruz and liberal ones like Obama.
Many think a governor will carry the Republican presidential banner in 2016. Perhaps, but a few members of Congress behaved sensibly enough during the shutdown to stay viable as potential candidates.
The real question is whether the party is now so divided that nobody can beat the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. At least the schism between realistic Republican conservatives and delusional true believers is out in the open while there is time for Reaganesque reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s elite media must begrudgingly give McConnell brief kudos for his role in returning relative sanity to the nation’s Capitol. They will quickly return to their regular role in trying to replace him with a pro-Obama novice.
It is too bad some misguided conservatives are making common cause with liberals in this effort. But it ought to be obvious to everyone by now that these radicals are willing to destroy the political village in order to save it.
The tea party and liberty movements were absolutely right that Republicans spent too much under George W. Bush and that Obamacare goes way too far. They did good service in returning the party to fiscal conservatism and focusing the country on the Constitution.
Now they need to be careful. Their revolution risks turning into a reign of terror.