Broder’s a hard man to please

BRODER’S A HARD MAN TO PLEASE…. For the ostensible “dean” of the media political establishment, David Broder’s take on the health care debate seems oddly detached from actual events.

What should have been a moment of proud accomplishment for the Senate, right up there with the passage of Social Security and the first civil rights bills, was instead a travesty of low-grade political theater — angry rhetoric and backroom deals.

Um, Mr. Broder? Angry rhetoric and backroom deals were very much a part of the passage of Social Security and the first civil rights bills.

There’s blame enough to go around. Start with the 40 Republicans, not one of whom was willing to break out of the mold of negative conformity and offer a sustained working partnership in serious legislative effort.

But even those Republicans who were initially inclined to do that — and there were at least a handful of them — were turned away by the White House and the Senate Democratic leaders, who never lifted their sights much beyond the Democratic ranks.

I hate to be a stickler for detail, but the White House and the Senate Democratic leaders all but begged Republicans to be a part of the process. The entire initiative was put on hold for months so the bipartisan “Gang of Six” could hold fruitless backroom talks, but the negotiations were nevertheless endorsed by the White House and the Senate Democratic leadership. More recently, just a week ago today, President Obama spent an hour and a half reaching out to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) directly, followed up by a half-hour phone call. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine was sought out nearly as much. In April, President Obama met with GOP leaders in the White House, and started talking about the kind of concessions he was prepared to make as part of a bipartisan compromise. He asked what Republicans might be willing to do in return. They offered literally nothing.

Dems “never lifted their sights much beyond the Democratic ranks”? Reality suggests otherwise.

It would help a lot if [President Obama] reached out personally to those few Republicans who might still want to improve the bill rather than sink it.

What does Broder think the president has been doing the last several months? Has Broder been traveling outside the country since the spring?

The entire column is almost pretty much what one would expect, given the columnist. Broder blames “both sides” and urges policymakers who disagree to put aside their differences and come together, letting the country know reform has “bipartisan support.” Sigh.

The truth is, David Broder should be thrilled with the Democratic plan, in that it addresses all of his purported concerns. It was the result of extensive compromise between liberals and conservatives; it incorporates ideas from the left, right, and center; it’s the most ambitious cost-cutting measure Congress has considered in at least a generation; and it’s a fiscally responsible policy that brings down the deficit considerably in the coming years.

Isn’t this the kind of policy and process Broder claims to love?