Steve Benen continues to be all over one of the more important stories out there: is the Republican party's rejectionist strategy going to prove costly -- to themselves?
This time, it's the doctors. To get health care reform passed, Obama has followed a strategy from the start of co-opting the various interest groups (the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, drug manufacturers) that turned against the Clinton effort and helped to sink it. Republicans could have fought back by having a competing proposal and seeking to compromise; in that story, each of those groups -- natural Republican allies all -- probably would have stuck with the GOP and allowed Republican congressional leaders to fight for the groups' priorities. Since, with a rejectionist strategy from the Republicans, the Democratic bill was the only game in town, the interest groups have been willing to go along.
What will happen down the road? Well, the big danger for Republicans is that they wind up losing normally Republican-oriented interest groups for good (that is, beyond this particular fight). That's why today's attack on the AMA by GOP Chair Steele (here, via Benen) is so interesting. Really -- can you think of a more natural ally of a Robert Taft style conservative Republican Party than the doctors? And here the message from the party is: (1) either you're with us or you're against us; and (2) oh by the way, we're not going to do anything to help your immediate and pressing economic interests during the biggest fight ever over those interests, if it jeopardizes our long-term strategy for winning back Congress and the presidency.
I'll repeat what I said last week: The stereotype of Republicans as strictly limited to a mainly religious faction in the South and the upper Mountain West has been a big exaggeration, but it doesn't have to stay that way.