The sight of U.S. House members with excellent government-funded health insurance voting to deprive 30 million Americans of a government-organized insurance plan was disturbing. But last week's latest symbolic attempt by Republican lawmakers to kill the federal health-care reform law was also clarifying.
It wasn't just the hypocrisy and callousness of the vote, the first since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law. It was the startling disconnect of the exercise. This vote was about power and politics, not the needs of people or the economy.
Although some of its provisions now apply, the Affordable Care Act is not fully in place. Yet House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said the law is making the economy worse, driving up costs, and making it harder for small businesses to hire workers.
Once they repeal Obamacare, what do Mr. Boehner and other House Republicans propose to replace it with? They could not adequately answer that.
They have no comprehensive plan of their own, certainly not one that will cover millions of uninsured Americans. At best they will fiddle at the edges, putting their faith in free enterprise while refusing to admit the previous health-care setup was dysfunctional.
Because the Affordable Care Act is still unpopular in public opinion polls, House Republicans have bet that their latest repeal vote -- which will get nowhere in a Senate controlled by Democrats -- will work to their benefit in November.
Only now they can't say the law is unconstitutional. And with its advantages becoming ever more clear -- children are covered under parents' insurance until age 26, pre-existing conditions cannot be held against patients, and more -- the bet looks less certain.
The do-nothings in the do-nothing Congress have had their vote. Perhaps that will prove the most important symbolism of all.