It was just a month ago when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his party's most recent vice presidential nominee, shared his theory on why he and his ticket came up short in 2012: it was the Affordable Care Act's fault. Republicans had to "argue against the promise" of "Obamacare," Ryan argued, and it was too tough to overcome.
Exactly a month later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday made a very different kind of argument on "Meet the Press."
For those who can't watch clips online, McConnell, asked about the health care, said:
"Look, this is a big, controversial issue. It's not going away. It's, in all likelihood, going to be the premiere issue in the 2014 election. The American people dislike it even more now than they did when it was passed. And they hope that the Congress will respond to their desire to stop this train wreck before it happens."
To recap, in 2012, Republicans made repealing the Affordable Care Act one of the premiere issues of the election cycle. The strategy failed -- GOP candidates lost the presidential race and lost seats in both the House and Senate. So in 2014, Republican intend to make repealing the Affordable Care Act one of the premiere issues of the election cycle.
In June, a prominent Republican leader said Obamacare enjoyed so much public support, it was integral to helping the president win a second term. In July, a different prominent Republican leader said Obamacare enjoys so little public support that the issue that boosted Democrats in 2012 will bury Democrats in 2014.
And stepping back to look at the bigger picture, a pattern starts to emerge: Republicans aren't just disappointed by the outcome of the 2012 elections, they're eager for some kind of do-over in which they fight the last two years all over again.
With 2013 half over, think about what we've seen from GOP policymakers so far this year: efforts to restrict voting rights, efforts to restrict reproductive rights, votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, votes for Paul Ryan's radical Medicare-ending budget plan, promises of a debt-ceiling crisis, a refusal to compromise on any area of public policy, and a preoccupation with disputes based on conspiracy theories.
Sound familiar? It should.
As a rule, when a major party suffers a major electoral setback, they take stock, try to learn something from failure, and alter course. Today's Republicans don't want to learn something from their missteps; they want to repeat them, on purpose. The 112th Congress didn't work out well? No problem, we'll just do it all again and hope for a different outcome.
Welcome to the Groundhog Day edition of the new, rebranded Republican Party.