Conservatives outside of Congress said Wednesday that efforts to pass an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system in the House had foundered again, after a series of meetings on the Hill produced legislation that the hard-line House Freedom Caucus could not support.Still seems like there's nothing stopping them but their own fear of having to own the consequences. But for that to hold, we'd have to assume our democracy is functioning somewhat which we all know isn't true at all.
“It was very close a couple of days ago, but it looks like things have gone in a bad direction,” said Heritage Action for America chief executive Michael Needham on a Wednesday morning call with reporters. Needham placed the blame squarely at the feet of moderates: “It’s kind of stunning that in 24 hours, instead of building support for good policy, they’ve kind of abandoned it.”
Update: Here's a smart analysis by Alex Pareene of what has happened to the Republican political apparatus that's made them seem so ineffectual even when they appear to hold all the cards. The real crisis starts with the Wise Old Men of the Bush Administration and their colossal blunder into Iraq.
The genteel Republicans in Washington, meanwhile, still existed in a their own genteel bubble of misinformation—they convinced themselves that the occupation of Iraq would be over and done with in a few easy months—but the major figures in the Bush administration, and its allies in Congress, were not men who got the majority of their news from “Free Republic” and Alex Jones. They put their faith in a fairly traditional conservative orthodoxy: That you can use the levers of power to quietly enrich your friends and their firms, while pleasing the masses with some combination of tax cuts, loud proclamations of religiosity, and a modest, popular war or two.Basically, this says they've painted themselves into a corner where a significant portion of their own caucus doesn't know whether to believe its own bullshit. I think that explains the paralysis.. at least momentarily. But money, power, and lobbyists have a way of clarifying things after a fashion. Give this congress a few more months and they're still likely to figure it out.
But the complete and inarguable disaster of the Bush administration—a failure of the conservative movement itself, one undeniable even to many consumers of the parallel conservative media—and his abrupt replacement by a black man, caused a national nervous breakdown among the people who’d been told, for many years, that conservatism could not fail, and that all Real Americans agreed with them.
Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.
That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.