To touch a hot stove once is supposed to be enough to learn for oneself. To watch others touch the same stove twice is supposed to make the lesson indelible as well.
Thus it seems odd that, having watched Democrats try twice to push through unpopular healthcare reform on a partisan basis and be badly burned by it, Republicans should be so eager to try it themselves. It's also odd that they should be so vitriolic as regards John McCain, who tried to pull their hand back at the very last moment, and even to turn off the stove.
"Great measures don't pass by narrow majorities," as Senator Moynihan told Hillary Clinton the first time she tried this. "They pass by wide margins, or fail." Few measures have ever been greater than healthcare legislation, which touches gravely and personally on each human being.
Great measures such as social security (1935) and the civil rights bills (1964-65) had wide and bipartisan backing, as the men who designed them understood they were needed, and went to great pains to lock them in place before voting. On the other hand, the Clintons and Obama thought the important thing was to keep the base happy and to "get something done." Both were wiped out in their ensuing midterms.
Dazzled by this for whatever reason, the Republicans, who won it all in a fluke last November, are following their playbook down to the very last item -- unpopular bill, partisan vote, reluctant supporters -- in the hope that somehow this time will be different. This, of course, is the definition of madness, and the odds appear large that it won't.
‘Repeal and Replace' was a wonderful battle cry, up to the point when the act became implemented, at which point it became (or should have been) evident that whatever it was that the replaced the old bill would have to cover everyone in it, or there would be hell to pay.
What was the thing that made sure that the 2014 midterms would be as bad for the Democrats as those in 2010 had once been? The anguished cries of the people hurt by the measure, who suddenly found out they could not keep their plans, could not keep their doctors, could only buy plans that were worse with less coverage, for two, three, or four times the cost. Millions had gripes, and many were turned into ads against Democrats. Most issues concern only limited numbers of people, but healthcare hits everyone. It is the most emotional, raw, and intense of all issues. Everyone cares for himself and the people around him, and everybody gets scared when he's sick.
Take all those who were hurt by Obamacare and flip it around to those who'll be hurt if it vanishes, and you'll have 2014 in reverse. It will be an endless parade of people with cancer, people with children with dreadful diseases, people all of a sudden priced out of the market, all blaming the Republicans for all of their problems, and all of them out for their blood.
A rushed plan cooked up on the spur of the moment will not solve their problems. No plan that isn't broad-based and/or bipartisan will ever be safe, or be seen as legitimate. McCain understands this, and so should more people. Both parties should now realize that.
Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."