House Republicans just can't remember what leadership looks like. They had better ditch the petty partisan posturing and morph into a caucus of ideas, quickly.
Calling the first days of GOP dominance in Washington inauspicious would be an understatement. The party of no just won't shake the bitter disdain that fueled it throughout President Barack Obama's tenure.
Crushing dissent was the first order of business, essentially walking on the ability of minority Democrats to protest with punitive fines and sanctions. The vindictive assault on opposition survived this week's rule-making process.
But another pitch -- crafted in secret by Republican backbenchers -- went too far for even president-elect Donald Trump. The House GOP, over the objections of Speaker Paul Ryan, looked Monday to behead the Office of Congressional Ethics and return to self-policing.
So much for draining the swamp. Settling scores for perceived slights -- in this case, public investigations into alleged corruption -- have, so far, taken a front seat to any semblance of policy.
Speaker Ryan attempted Wednesday to regain momentum after his caucus took a pistol, aimed at its own feet and squeezed the trigger. Along with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Ryan outlined the GOP's plan to gut Obamacare. Even here, though, the GOP's new-found unilateral power railroaded the made-for-television event.
Dozens of times, the GOP has voted for Obamacare's repeal. But each instance was little more than base pandering. The president's veto was a sure bet.
Come Jan. 20, the promised votes to kill Obamacare will have real weight. And, after six years of griping and dozens of votes, Republicans aren't capable of offering a real alternative. Instead, they're bickering among themselves about what comes next.
Years of griping. Years of complaining. Not a single cogent idea that would take the controversial program's place, even as the health of 20 million now-insured Americans hang in the balance.
The rush is on to kill Obamacare. But, obviously, that whole "replace" bit -- the actual measure of a ruling party -- is only disparate ideas and nonsensical talking points.
This is not the face of leadership.
For years, Republicans successfully weaponized Obamacare and took down dozens of purple-district House Democrats. They tapped hyperbolic rhetoric knowing that, with Obama in the White House, it amounted to little but theater.
That reality ends on Jan. 20.
Republicans will probably realize their fever dream and end Obamacare under President Trump. They can take a harder line against radical Islam. They can slash taxes for those "job creators" that comprise the top 1 percent. They can weaken public education with vouchers and waivers. They can effectively render public unions a relic of history.
Making all this happen, in a real way, extends far beyond the fantasies spewed from a podium, though.
After endless complaints, the House GOP caucus is listless. It's void of ideas. It's struggling to come to terms with its own power.
So far, Americans have seen only a caucus structured for opposition. That won't work for long when there's no one else to blame.