Thursday, March 25, 2010


And in the midst of all the insanity in our political life, the New York Daily News runs this op-ed by a sort-of conservative guy and a sort-of liberal guy who've been affiliated with something called the Bipartisan Policy Center:

...What if [Ted] Kennedy had lived? Would some Republicans have voted in support of health reform? Would a bipartisan agreement have been achieved?

Nobody can provide a firm answer, of course. Still, for many on the left, the answer is most likely: No. Rather, they say, Kennedy would have delivered on the cherished (and now defunct) public option. Kennedy wouldn't have caved so quickly to his erstwhile Democratic allies who refused to support a government plan to compete with private insurers in the health care marketplace. He would have refused to capitulate to squishy moderates in his ranks.

Given how the debate unfolded, however, another set of developments might have occurred: Kennedy's presence in this sharply divisive debate could have acted as a moderating tonic. When the chips were down, he might have tempered some of the partisan vitriol on left and right; possibly, had he lived, he could have led the push for a bipartisan health care bill....

You just can't kill this notion. It feels as if we're on a slippery slope headed toward a literal civil war and these guys, and yet there's still a belief out there that there was some way to get everyone to make nice.

As a liberal, I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion that Ted Kennedy would have tried like hell to cut a health care deal. I know perfectly well that he was more a dealmaker than a zealot. But there's no compromising with the right -- God knows Democrats tried. Partisan vitriol on the left? Did any of that show up in the bill?

At least this was in the News, not one of the country's big agenda-setting papers. I think by now most of them have finally grasped that dealmaking in Congress right now is essentially impossible.

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