They went into a room to write a health care bill. Didn't need any women. For diversity they had Ted Cruz, still famous at Harvard for only allowing Ivy League grads into his law school study group. A man of the people. Didn't need to hear from the public. What do we know about health care anyhow?
Those 13 have been talking about little else for years now; they've made it their top priority. You'd expect that they'd have been thinking about it as well.
Let's be clear. There are conservatives out there who actually think about health care policy and have put forth different ideas. Apparently, none of them were of much interest to the Men's Club, because none of these ideas are in the bill they produced.
Another thing to be clear about: No one has said Obamacare is perfect. The health care system in this country is, on a daily basis, the best and the worst in the world. It's endlessly frustrating, full of long waits and mistakes and inefficiencies, and also full of breathtaking breakthroughs that have turned death sentences into chronic illnesses and kept us alive long enough to get age-related diseases.
I don't know a doctor or patient, a nurse or an administrator, a pharmacist or a pharmaceutical company, an insurance company or a collection of lawyers, who don't have valid points of criticism.
Millions of Americans have insurance cards who never did, and nothing matters more to the quality or timeliness of care than having one of those cards. Yet there is much to be mended in the current system.
You would think the 13 Republican senators, who collectively had been railing against Obamacare for about a century, together with a White House that had made this legislation its top priority, would come up with something more than the drivel they did.
Do you know a Democrat's version of a Republican? Somebody who only cares about the rich, whose only answer to problems is tax cuts for the wealthy, and who wants those in need, those scraping to make ends meet, to pay for the tax cut.
Do you know what those 13 men came up with? Just that.
Shame on them.
A bill that they can't even vote on was the best they could do. These so-called reformers who were going to drain the swamp can't because they're too busy splashing around in it.
And you want to vote on throwing 22 million people off the rolls by the Fourth of July. Give people their independence — from a caring nation.
Leader Mitch McConnell claims their humiliation will be short-lived, the defeat only temporary. The Republicans continue to negotiate with each other, specifically saying they don't want to have to bring in the Democrats.
They can't imagine anything scarier than a dialogue about health care that is not limited to 52 well-insured senators — and perhaps Vice President Mike Pence. Swamp-dwellers all.
What are they afraid of?
Public scrutiny? Hard choices? Being blamed?
All of the above. So hide in your secret negotiations, cowards. It didn't work. It wasn't just three senators who ruined the Independence Day parade.
And if your answer is to do it again, only with 52 people in the room instead of 13, it still won't work.
It didn't work when Hillary Clinton tried to have a semi-secret process to come up with a health care bill; in that case, they consulted with plenty of people with ideas but lost touch with the political process.
The Republicans have lost touch with both: with the experts, including conservatives who are trying to address the problems of access and cost, and with the stakeholders in this process, which includes anyone with an insurance card, an elderly relative, a pre-existing condition or a job that doesn't provide benefits.
Right now, the Republicans who are in charge are not listening to anyone. Pretty soon, they may discover that no one is going to listen to them.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.