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Nobody will consider the Republicans’ secret Trumpcare bill a scandal if Democrats don’t treat it like one.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stipulating that Senate Democrats have limited procedural tools with which to stop the Republicans’ alternative to Obamacare, I think it’s fair to say that their efforts to focus public attention on Republicans’ secretive process lack imagination.

Stein’s whole thread details the Democrats’ reluctance to use dilatory tactics to frustrate Republican efforts to take health insurance away from 20-plus million people. Grinding the Senate to a halt over the American Health Care Act would complicate unrelated bipartisan efforts—stopping, for instance, Attorney General Jeff Sessions from testifying about his undisclosed campaign-season meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which he lied about under oath.

This strikes me as the ultimate exercise in losing the plot. It is understandably challenging to get news editors and producers to write splashy headlines and run breaking news alerts about a bill whose details are unknown. The key to making that story seem juicy is to underline the fact that the Republican health care reform process is a scandal—marked no less than the Trump-Russia scandal by secret meetings, violated norms, collusion, and deceit. On a day to day basis, it looks like “no news,” but that’s because the public interest is being brazenly subverted.

One way around this challenge is to seize the narrative. Headlines that say “Democrats Shut Down Sessions Hearing Over Secret Republican Health Care Bill” would shine a light, if not on what Republicans are planning to do, then on the scandalous way they are doing it. That would increase pressure on Republicans to conduct a more transparent process, and maybe even ferret out details of the secret plan.