Poised to pass their repeal and replacement of Obamacare on Thursday, House GOP leaders held what The Hill referred to as “a pep rally” in the Capitol basement, where Speaker Paul Ryan and company blared the Rocky theme song as the rank-and-file arrived:
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put an image of George S. Patton on the screen and read inspirational quotes from the general.
“Let’s get this f--king thing done!” Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told her colleagues, according to sources in the room.
McCarthy reportedly quoted Patton’s saying, “Accept the challenge so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” But given that Republicans are rushing to a vote without waiting for a Congressional Budget Office score, a more accurate Patton quote would be “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” (Except this isn’t a good plan at all.)
The invocation of Rocky is especially inapt, as it suggests Republicans are somehow underdogs in this scenario. But the losers of this bill aren’t some cocky favorite like Apollo Creed; they’re the 24 million people who will lose insurance if this bill becomes law. But the American Health Care Act is unlikely to become law because it’s politically toxic not only with the American public, but the Senate too. And if the bill does fail, House Republicans who supported it may well be bruised-and-bloodied losers twice over, with the 2018 midterm elections: As Politico reported, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings “walked through a bunch of reporters standing outside Ryan’s office yesterday evening and jokingly thanked the GOP for giving them the House back.”
If that happens, another cinematic reference the GOP made on Thursday may prove more prescient. Representative Ann Wagner told ABC News that “the line of the day was out of Braveheart, ‘Freedom’!” It’s worth recalling how that movie ends. Yes, the hero yells, “Freedom!” But then he dies. Cause of death: public disembowelment, followed by decapitation.