Whether it passes or not, and however it is altered, you can count the number of Republicans who will vote for health care reform this fall on one hand — perhaps even one finger. Which is disappointing. No one believes the current system can’t be improved. But one party is not even trying. Ideas are few. Cooperation is minimal. Politics is prominent.

Every now and then, I’m ahead of my time. Like last week, when I ran that red light. I was blocks ahead of where I would have been and making great time. But society sometimes frowns on being ahead of your time. And by society, I mean the police.

Back in 1993, I was ... let’s see, my math was never very good, but, this is 2009 ... 13 years ahead of my time. Johnny Carson was finally retiring as host of “The Tonight Show.” By this time he only showed up two nights a week, and even then just to do the monologue. But he was an American institution, and NBC couldn’t decide whether to replace him with comedian Jay Leno or their late night host, David Letterman. They eventually chose Jay and a miffed Dave bolted for CBS.

“What they should have done,” I said way back then, knowing I’d need a column topic some decade and a half later, “was give Letterman a 10 o’clock show every night. They’d have Leno for ‘Tonight,’ they’d keep Dave; everyone would be happy.”

I’m not exactly plugged into the Hollywood scene, so it took quite awhile for this bright idea to make its way to NBC, whose lineup of programming in recent years could  be referred to as “Must-Flee TV.”

This month, Leno launched a nightly 10 o’clock show, just as I had suggested all those years ago.

You know who else was ahead of her time? Nancy Reagan.

The former first lady launched an anti-drugs campaign in the 1980s, telling school kids to “Just Say No.” There was disagreement over how effective this initiative was, but the idea had a certain elegant simplicity. It didn’t require kids to think through the personal consequences of a potentially bad decision; it didn’t lecture about the societal damage caused by a drug-distributing black market. It simply urged students to reject all entreaties to experiment with drugs.

“Hey, you wanna try ...”

“No!”

“Look, I got some good ... ”

“No!”

“Here, take a hit off of ... ”

“No!”

Just say no.

All these years later, the campaign is back. Congressional Republicans have adopted it as their chief method of legislating.

“Hey, you wanna pass an economic stimulus ... ”

“No!”

“Look, I got a comprehensive climate and energy ... ”

“No!”

“Here, let’s work on this proposed health care ... ”

“No!”

Whether it passes or not, and however it is altered, you can count the number of Republicans who will vote for health care reform this fall on one hand — perhaps even one finger. Which is disappointing. No one believes the current system can’t be improved. But one party is not even trying. Ideas are few. Cooperation is minimal. Politics is prominent.

Politics is ugly, in fact. Lawmakers are egged on by radio talk-show types and the conservative media. In fact, much was made of such outlets getting GOP talking points during George W. Bush’s presidency. These days, I’m not so sure the situation isn’t the other way around.

Congressional Republicans are acting much as they did during the first year of President Clinton’s administration, when they voted en masse against the president’s five-year economic plan. We all know how the economy responded. They also banded together to block a proposed health care overhaul, a move many students of politics say was a key component in their success at retaking Congress in the 1994 elections. Clearly, they’re hoping history will repeat itself.

So we have a revamped late-night talk show at 10 p.m., just as I suggested in 1993. And we have a Republican Party lining up in solidarity against a Democratic president, just as we had in 1993. Sadly, it’s the latter that falls under the category of tired rerun.

Contact Messenger Post managing editor Kevin Frisch at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257 or by e-mail at kfrisch@messengerpostmedia.com.