Look at the media coverage, including from a number of my friends in the right-of-center media who occasionally pop up in discussion panels on various TV networks. Read their articles. Read their tweets. Hear them on television.
Now what do you think they would be saying today if it had been Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul who had voted against skinny repeal?
For those of you who think I am being too obtuse, the fact is the GOP institutionally has built up around itself a series of puppets in the press into which they reach their arms via the puppet’s rectum and move their puppets’ mouths and hands in defense of anything the party does. And as the party often aligns against conservatives, it is the conservatives who get the blame.
But now it is McCain, Murkowski, and Collins who are at fault. The coverage against them, I would submit, is far more mild than it would have been against Lee, Cruz, and Paul. These three had practical reasons. If it were the others, they’d have let the perfect be the enemy of the good. McCain, Murkowski, and Collins may be moderates, they may be liars, and they may have betrayed their party, but they’ll never be called filthy hobbits.
It is another reminder of how Washington operates. It is not a place friendly to conservatives and even many of the presumed conservative pundits and reporters are far more shills and stenographers for bad leadership than they are for their principles. They depend on or like access to leadership and cocktail parties.
Being an actual, principled conservative will not get you invited to the parties or get you invited onto TV shows or get you your own TV show or column in a favored Washington publication. They will defend the friends of leadership and they will attack conservatives who expose the feckless nature of leadership.
The entire tone and framing of the conversation today from Republican corners would be far more uncivil and hostile if Lee, Cruz, and Paul had been the ones to oppose skinny repeal.