Reading Eugene Robinson’s column in the Washington Post today, a particular paragraph struck me. Emphasis is mine.

Obama proposes the kind of budgetary support that Kathleen Sebelius, nominated yesterday as health and human services secretary, must surely love: a $634 billion “down payment” over the next 10 years on health-care reform, with the aim of moving toward universal coverage. The important thing here isn’t the big number but the fact that he is expanding the government’s responsibility for citizens’ health beyond the old, the young and the poor. Conservative commentators, of course, are outraged that Obama would go so far as to offer a government-supported plan that Americans are likely to prefer to the hodgepodge of private insurance coverage they now have to navigate. Has the president no shame?

Earlier in his column, Robinson writes that the Republicans are seemingly “oblivious” about what’s happening in America. But when I think about this — they would HAVE to be to keep arguing for the government’s demise. In order for them to sap any relevance out of the current political environment, the GOP is dependent on believing that people are overburdened by government, rather than by the anything-but-government policies of the Republican Party.

Truth be told, even some Republicans don’t mind Obama’s government-heavy message, laid out in the President’s speech Tuesday night. Thanks to Gallup, we know that Obama received quite a bump in his approval rating following the speech, and much of that was from Republicans who just don’t seem to be enamored with the Party of Rush. Check it out:

We also have the 2008 election results to point to. Turns out people aren’t that scared of socialism after all. While the GOP raised the s-word quite a bit over the last month or two of the campaign, Americans didn’t seem to care, heartily voting for socialism on November 4th.

So now, the Republican Party is in a tough place. They have to argue for what people don’t want, yet still entertain dreams of being relevant. They’re lucky the conventional inside-the-beltway journalists and moderate Democrats still care what they think — for now. That’s the only thing that’s keeping them from total irrelevance.