11/09/2010 10:25 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Where There's a Will, There's Away

By all clear evidence, the Republican Party did incredibly well in the mid-term elections. Republican leaders have subsequently been finding the nearest microphones to make demands now that they are in charge. Now that the Will of the People has spoken.

There's one problem -- they're not in charge. By similar clear evidence, the Republican Party didn't do remotely as well as they'd like Americans to think.

Before anyone leaps up in angst, consider:

Republicans took the House in large numbers and won Senate seats. But Democrats not only held the Senate, but control it with a solid 53-47 majority -- by the Will of the People. And Democrats also hold the White House. (That's a Will of the People thing, too, y'know.) Indeed, in the most recent Newsweek poll that same Will gave President Obama a 54-40% approval.

So, of these three bodies of government, Democrats hold two of them.

That's a majority. If you want a Will o' the People, there it is.

The elections clearly showed a solid move towards Republicans. But anyone unable to take a step back and see that Republicans don't control government is only going to dig a deep hole for themselves. It's the same hole George Bush dug when squeaking to a second term and thinking he had a mandate and "political capital." With that hubris he crashed the economy and left office with a 22% approval.

After all, when you posture that "We're in charge!," We the People expect you to deliver on your promises and fix the economy you crashed in the first place. But because you're not in charge, you simply won't be able to. And you will get the blame.


"We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people," the new House Speaker-elect John Boehner crowed, "change course, and commit to making the changes they are demanding."

His own words he will be held to, as he digs deeper. Of course, when Barack Obama won the presidency, Republicans never came close to "respecting" that Will of the People and the changes it "demanded." Instead, they tried blocking almost everything with unanimous votes of "No."

And not only does that "course" of government remain more in Democratic hands, but there's absolutely no indication that the changes "demanded" are ones Mr. Boehner is posturing about. Exit polls showed no demand for lowering the deficit, no demand to cut taxes for the wealthy, no demand to repeal health care. What people said they wanted were jobs and a repaired economy (problems the Republicans themselves created and then blocked efforts to fix).

More importantly, many moderates, independents and even Democrats were angered not because Democrats did too much, but because -- they didn't do enough! Because health care didn't include a public option. Because the stimulus package didn't include more resources. Because banking reforms made too many concessions.

The thing is, it's clear that Republican leaders understand they overplayed their hand, and will be unable to deliver what they ran on:

"We will not compromise our principles," Mr. Boehner insisted, yet only days later Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), messiah of the Koch-sponsored "Tea Party" corporations, compromised Principle One, telling the Wall Street Journal he'd support earmarks for his own Kentucky.

Look too at the supposedly-hated health care. Sorry, "Obamacare." And understand even more clearly how Republicans realize the problem they created.

"We have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill," Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell toughly insisted, "and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health care."

Sounds incredibly uncompromising, doesn't it?! "Repeal" health care!! Except...well, you see, he didn't say that. Repealing reforms and replacing them with reforms isn't actually repealing anything. It's amending an existing bill. All Mitch McConnell said was - don't worry, all those parts of Obamacare you love, we'll keep: covering kids, removing pre-existing conditions, keeping children on their parents' policy.

"Repeal and replace" has become the Republican buzzword. Listen how often you hear it. Listen how often you don't hear just, "Replace."

Listen to Mike Pence (R-IN), House Republican Conference Chairman, talk Wild West tough. "House Republicans will not rest until we repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel." Wow, it doesn't get tougher, doesn't get more specific than that. Government healthcare is over. Forever! Providing that your definition of "forever" is until the next sentence. "We're going to do everything in our power to pass legislation to completely start over."

Honestly, either you're for government health care, or you're against it. And "replacing" government health care with slightly-different government health care is still government health care.

Still Obamacare.

A rose is a rose is a rose.

Some principle. Gone in a week.

And this flimflammery is all because Republican leaders understand that after their two years blocking the Will of the People, after John Boehner saying "We will not compromise our principles," after trying to convince people that the Republican Party is now in charge -- they know that they now have to put up or shut up. And they are stuck.

Because the GOP doesn't control Congress, because they themselves created the policies that crashed the economy, because they sold their soul to a far far right they must placate, and because much of what Barack Obama has passed not only works, but the public generally supports.

And the GOP doesn't appear to have a clue what to do. Already, after one week, the "Tea" folks are upset with the tiniest compromise, and economists have blasted the Republican "Pledge to America" as doing nothing for the economy.

So, they're stuck with razzle-dazzle phrases like "Repeal and replace." And whatever other mumbo jumbo the Republicans are desperate to try.

If they're sweating this much after one week, buckle your seatbelts for the next two years.

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