I understand digby’s point. It can be quite annoying to hear Democrats talk about the value of bipartisanship ‘because it can bring the country together.’ The country is together on a public option for the new health care plan. The country overwhelmingly supports a public option. As digby says, only corporate whores oppose a government-run alternative to giving their money to health insurance companies. But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is on the floor of the Senate right now arguing the merits of a public option. He’s advocating a position that no more than one or two Senate Republicans are even remotely likely to support. It’s far more likely that a handful of Democratic Senators will oppose a public option than it is that a handful of Republicans will support one.
Ron Wyden serves on the Finance Committee, which is much more conservative than the HELP Committee. The Finance Committee chair is Max Baucus (D-MT), and other ‘centrist’ members include: Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Tom Carper (D-DE). The HELP committee is chaired by Teddy Kennedy (or Chris Dodd, when Kennedy is unavailable) and it’s most conservative members are Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. These two committees are trying to mark up health care bills and then combine them into one comprehensive bill to take to the floor of the Senate. There are very good reasons for Ron Wyden to make conciliatory gestures to the other side of the aisle. For one thing, Orrin Hatch and Olympia Snowe sit on the other side of the aisle on Finance, and they are two Republicans well known for their interest in health policy.
Harry Reid has instructed Max Baucus to stop trying to attract votes from Hatch, Snowe, and the other Republicans on Finance, but that doesn’t compel Wyden to adopt a hard-line tone. I think Wyden and Obama are right. Everyone’s first choice is to pass a bill that has significant (or any) Republican support. There is nothing wrong with saying so. In fact, acting reasonable and conciliatory now will make it easier to ram home a bill on party-line later if that (as it appears it will) becomes necessary.
I don’t think it is a fair criticism of Ron Wyden to compare him to David Boren.