Now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. 

You don’t really want to know.

You want to be fooled.

By now the way the GOP does pretty much everything in the Senate has become as formulaic and predictable as a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. In Act 1, some Republican Senator – usually [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] or [mc_name name=’Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000577′ ] – will propose a solution that actually stands a chance of accomplishing something. In the case of the Planned Parenthood fight, it was to attach the Planned Parenthood defunding measure to a “must pass”* Highway Bill.

Act 1 closes with the craven leaders of the GOP being terrified of the political fight that would be required to actually carry out the Cruz/Lee plan and running into their caves to plot.

Act 2 then inevitably involves a promise from McConnell and the rest of his crack leadership team to do something “reasonable” to address the problem that doesn’t risk any political damage to the GOP (but also doesn’t stand any chance in hell of actually addressing the problem). In this case, that is to attempt to schedule a vote on a standalone bill to defund Planned Parenthood. McConnell has already had two public defections from the GOP ranks, so this bill will never make it to Obama’s desk, but even if it does, Obama will definitely veto it and will suffer no political consequences for doing so. This effort inevitably fails, to the great chagrin of the conservative audience.

In Act 3, McConnell or [mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ] or whoever comes out, full of pretend sorrow about the outcome of Act 2, and makes an impassioned monologue asking for money/votes from the audience. You see, if only there were more Republicans like him, he would have surely been able to accomplish what he set out to do in Act 2, and all would be well.

A lot of well-meaning pro-life groups are out there today putting pressure on individual Senators for how they will vote today on Defunding Planned Parenthood, and some are actually praising the fact that the vote will occur. I think this is dangerous naivety, and ignores the fact that the outcome of this particular fight is pre-ordained. A standalone defunding bill will not work, is doomed to fail, and only serves the purpose of letting [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ], [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ], and [mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ] lie to the conservative base and assert that they tried (when, in fact, they have not).

So just keep this in mind as you watch the curtain rise on this particular act of the charade, and as people are praising some for voting for the bill and criticizing others for voting against it: the people who are putting on this act think you are stupid. They think you won’t notice that they’ve pulled this stunt a million times before. They think you won’t be able to see through their charade and notice that money has to ultimately be affirmatively appropriated by Congress on a regular basis, and that as long as they are in control of the purse strings, no bill can go through with additional funding for Planned Parenthood without their consent. And they are hoping that at the end of the day, like a sucker, you will keep coming back for more of their Failure Theater with money in your pockets.

Are you watching closely?

*The bill is not actually “must pass,” by any stretch of the imagination, but it is very important to Democrat constituencies, and vetoing it would have proven politically costly.