Bob Corker on repeal: "The fact is that’s not going to happen, OK?"

Sounds like the retreat is in full swing now. Thank goodness we have principled conservatives like, er, John McCain still pounding the table for repeal — and, of course, for sending the National Guard to the border. If only that primary race with Hayworth could last forever…

In the immediate aftermath of the reform’s passage, many of Corker’s Republican colleagues, including 2008 presidential contender Sen. John McCain, have pledged to repeal the legislation. Corker described that as unlikely, given the reality of needing 67 votes in the Senate to overcome a presidential veto of repeal legislation.

“The fact is that’s not going to happen, OK?” Corker told dozens of people at Vanderbilt University.

Still, Corker made clear his opposition to the legislation and spoke in favor of continued, incremental legislative reform in future years to correct problems he foresees.

If the argument was that the GOP will repeal O-Care next year, then of course he’s right. Sixty-seven Republican votes in the Senate is a pipe dream. The thing is, no one’s making that argument. McCain himself is focusing on defunding the thing, which the GOP could have the votes to do. That’s not to say they’d actually do it — we’ve been over that argument before — but they could certainly use it as leverage over Obama to modify the law. The other argument, per Sean Trende, is that you don’t need 67 Republican votes; you need 67 votes, period, and given the number of vulnerable Democrats who’ll be up in 2012, there’s a chance that you could peel away a few centrists like Nelson if the country’s still trending right. That’s still a longshot since Obama will be at the top of the ticket and Dems facing reelection won’t want to face the wrath of an energized base, but like Trende says, if the red wave rolls on for another two years, they may have no choice but to vote with the GOP. Verdict: Unlikely, but not impossible.

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