This week, Bill Frist, the former Republican Senate Majority Leader again offered qualified praise for the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Bob Bennett is on the verge of losing his primary in Utah, primarily because he briefly sponsored a health care bill with Ron Wyden that went nowhere.
What these two episodes show is the degree to which the Republican Party lurched to the right during the health care debate. Ideas that were until recently moderate became dangerous socialism. Right-wing elites like Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the Congressional leadership led the opposition to health care reform, whipping the base into a frenzy. That frenzy, in turn, pulled the whole rest of the party along with it. It's pretty clear that plenty of Republicans in Washington would have liked to cut a deal if left to their own devices, but they weren't left to their own devices.