By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

Sen. John McCain may be the single Republican officeholder most unpopular right now with his party’s rank and file, but his actions this summer may well have saved his party.

I write this as someone who would have voted for both of the Obamacare replacement bills, “skinny repeal,” and Graham-Cassidy, which McCain famously killed. The former was a poor bill but a vehicle to keep alive the chance of something better via a House-Senate conference committee, while the latter actually was a rather well-crafted (even if not perfect) piece of legislation.

But by killing both bills, McCain kept Republicans from implementing law opposed by huge majorities of Americans, while buying them time both to design a better statute and to regain public support for their efforts.

This was the year, after all, in which Republicans took an Obamacare law opposed by majorities (or at least pluralities) of Americans for seven years straight and somehow found a way to make the attempt to repeal it far more unpopular than the original law ever had been. All year long, Republican attention to actually explaining their approach, much less really selling it, has been shockingly weak.

This is where McCain’s enduring wisdom comes in. When explaining his reasons for deciding (in effect) to kill both bills, McCain offered the same considerations each time: Bills this important, with such far-reaching consequences, should be fully vetted through the “regular order” of open committee hearings and ample amendment opportunities, while a sincere attempt should be made to garner some support from members of the opposition party.

McCain is right. This isn’t mere procedural fastidiousness, but instead a highly practical approach. He correctly insists that the forms of Republican lawmaking are crucial for fairness, for better lawmaking, and for the public acceptance of the results that is essential to American civil society….

[For the rest of this counter-intuitive column, including a path forward, please follow this link.]

 

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