Is this the end of bipartisanship? Why did President Barack Obama -- a man who served, albeit briefly, in the United States Senate -- think that Chuck Grassley might be amenable to his health care bill? What was the White House thinking? Olympia Snowe, sure; Mike Enzi, possibly. But even this blogger -- who has never served in the Senate -- knows that temperamentally, Chuck Grassley is a partisan Republican conservative. It does not even matter that he has showed tentative interest in the bill, or that Obama won Iowa (twice), Grassley's home state -- he ultimately reverted to type. Even I could have told Barack Obnama that. From WashPo's Ezra Klein, who writes:
"Spent a few hours today as one of the panelist's on Dylan Ratigan's 'Morning Meeting.' Toward the end of the second hour, Chuck Grassley hopped on the program to talk death panels and bipartisanship. It sounded like bipartisanship dying.
"First, Grassley did not speak like Lindsey Graham or Olympia Snowe. He did not come onto the program determined to present a reasonable face and comfort liberals, conservatives and independents alike. Instead, he railed against 'government-run health care' and the "Pelosi health-care bill." He talked about bureaucrats and exploding deficits. He sounded like a House conservative giving a stump speech. Grassley presumably leaves his stemwinders behind when he's with the Gang of Six. But this was not a comforting sign. This was not a unifying performance.
"Second, Chuck Todd asked Grassley whether he'd vote for the bill if it was a good piece of policy that he'd crafted but that couldn't attract more than a handful of Republican votes. 'Certainly not,' replied Grassley. Todd tried again, clarifying that this was legislation Grassley liked, and thought would move the ball forward, but was getting bogged down due to partisanship. Grassley held firm. If a good bill cannot attract Republican support, then it is not a good bill, he argued."
Historians of the future may look back at Chuck Grassley's flip and count that as the moment bipartisanship died. The pie-eyed idealism that Americans were creating a movement, a ship of state that transcended the choppy waters of our previous partisanship just struck the iceberg healthcare.
Grassley, we cannot fail to note, is all mixed messages even as the White House dances around the issue of the public option. "I’ve said all year that something as big and important as health care legislation should have broad-based support," Grassley said in a statement to The Hill. "So far, no one has developed that kind of support, either in Congress or at the White House. That doesn’t mean we should quit. It means we should keep working until we can put something together that gets that widespread support."
Sounds like Grassley just doesn't want to be pegged by those aforementioned Historians of the Future as the one who destroyed bipartisanship in the 111th Congress.