QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) raised a few eyebrows yesterday when he told a group of constituents yesterday that the “death panel” insanity is a legitimate issue. “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma,” Grassley said, no doubt aware of the fact that his comments were patently nonsensical.

But that’s not the only thing the conservative Iowan said yesterday.

As he did at two previous town-hall meetings on Wednesday, Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made a point at his third event to tell his constituents that he won’t compromise his principles for the sake of getting a health care deal. […]

“I don’t even think it’s right for me to call [the Finance discussions] negotiations,” Grassley said, inside a steamy community center packed with a standing-room-only crowd of about 350 people. “We’re talking.”

Got that? The leading Republican negotiator on health care reform doesn’t even want to admit that “negotiations” exist. Grassley is willing to concede that he’s “talking” to other senators, but according to the Roll Call report, the Iowa Republican “downplayed the ongoing bipartisan Finance Committee talks, saying his decision to stay at the table allows him to keep his constituents and fellow GOP Senators informed.”

Grassley added that no matter what the final bill looks like, unless the reform legislation enjoys the broad support of the Republican Party, he’ll vote against it.

It’s remarkable. The chief Senate health care negotiator in the Republican Party wants his constituents to know that he doesn’t even consider himself to be part of “negotiations,” and is only there to acquire information. Grassley is also, apparently, negotiating the details of a bill he’s likely to vote against.

Democrats, in other words, are trying to strike a deal on health care reform with someone who doesn’t support health care reform.

That Grassley has cultivated a reputation for being a sensible moderate isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.