Although we won’t know for sure until the CBO score hits, this is either a major triumph, or a major defeat. If a triggered plan doesn’t make it into the final bill (as some sources still suggest), Republicans will have forced a trade to an objectively less promising plan, just to avoid the appearance of “socialism,” and slake the bloodlust of constituents with more anger than sense. If, on the other hand, we do get a triggered plan, we’ll have played upon Republican shortsightedness to get the eventual, permanent public option we wanted all along.
These appear to be the only outcomes left to us, and both are profoundly disappointing, because both reveal the central failure of the political process: despite its disintegrating base, the right retains the ability to hijack debate, and drive the country off a cliff. Until we can have debates in this country again — real debates, about real things, without charged-but-empty rhetoric — we won’t have our country back. Call it a wish half-granted: the right man for the job, but a constituency with a memory so short, that they’ll still fall for the same dirty tricks.