According to the wonks (and the anguished wails of conservatives), we'll have a health care bill signed by the State of the Union. And it may even incrementally improve between now and then. What did we learn?
We learned, again, forever, that the Senate is broken. There are 60 votes to pass the bill but no chance of that happening before Christmas. They had to meet at 1 a.m. in a blizzard to pass a procedural motion. Do you think a climate bill is happening? Hah. Sure. Whatever. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins got everything they asked for and they voted against it. Lieberman and Nelson promise to attempt to kill it again if it ends up looking too generous. Here is a chart that proves that it was not always thus.
So, let's talk about Harry Reid. It is dumb to have a party leader in danger of being unseated! And yet, the Democrats keep doing this! Remember Tom Daschle, our last Democratic Majority Leader? He lost reelection, because he was a moderate Democrat representing a Republican state.
He was preceded, (and succeeded/preceded again!) as Senate Majority Leader by Republican Trent Lott, of Mississippi, a man who could say the country would've been better off if racist segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected president and still win reelection. In fact, that actually happened! And then he resigned so that he could become a lobbyist. After Lott, the Republicans selected Bill Frist, a fairly useless character overall, but, once again, a man from a safe Southern seat.
Bob fucking Dole was the Republican Senate Majority leader before Lott. This was, again, not a man in danger of losing his seat.
And to replace Daschle Democrats pick... a Senator from Nevada, the modern definition of a (often right-leaning) swing state. Ugh! Argh! What is wrong with you guys? Why isn't it Schumer or Dodd or Durbin or Feinstein or Boxer or Rockefeller or even Kerry?
But Reid, who we have criticized a lot, did an admirable job with what he was given. He did basically sacrifice his Senate seat for this legislation, and he never actively attempted to water it down, his role in the various compromises notwithstanding. It's just that a majority leader shouldn't have to sacrifice his seat for legislation. That is idiotic.
Over in the house, though, while Nancy Pelosi is one of the most reviled women in America (she is a liberal California lady oh noooo), she gets results, like an unhinged television detective at a snowball fight. It is obviously much easier to get results there, but being from an incredibly safe seat allows her to make deals and push through bills without worrying about how it'll play back home.
So, yeah, it would be nice to see a tougher leader, from a more liberal state. One who would maybe force through a reconciliation vote on the various nice liberal things that were stripped from the bill—most of those things, like the public option, are things that would work in reconciliation. It would be nice to have a leader who would threaten to blow up the rules of the Senate, which needs to be done by someone. The "political reality" is that everything needs 60 votes and every single compromise was necessary to add or retain every vote, but "political realities" change when politicians change them, which is why there is a 60 vote floor to begin with.
It is nice, really, to have billions of dollar for uninsured people to afford insurance, and the new regulations are long overdue. But christ, the country is pretty broken, right?
2010 is going to be fun! There will be like three more of these year-long soul-destroying battles over every little thing!