GRASSLEY CONTINUES TO BLAST DEM LEADERS…. Yesterday, MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) about “death panels.” The conservative senator described it as “nothing more than a distortion coming from far-left.” That, of course, didn’t make any sense.

Today, Grassley expounded on the subject with Fox News.

Grassley said that attacks on him for having spoken about concerns on end-of-life care at a town hall meeting in Iowa last week were meant to distract from a “miserably poor” healthcare bill in the House.

“I think that there’s a bigger goal that they have here — a diversion away from what’s wrong with the Pelosi bill,” Grassley said during a phone interview on Fox News.

“I think that this is what a president or speaker of the House has to do when they have a miserably poor healthcare bill that’s not being received well by the people,” he added.

For context, Grassley told constituents they “have every right to fear” the “death panels” right-wing activists have been talking about. The Iowan added, “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.” Time‘s Joe Klein called the comments “sheer idiocy.”

The Republican senator told Fox News this morning that the only reason his comments drew fire was because Democrats are trying to distract us from their “miserably poor” reform bill. He added that President Obama and Speaker Pelosi were “intellectually dishonest” to criticize Grassley’s “pull-the-plug” remarks. (As far as I can tell, President Obama didn’t criticize Grassley at all, which ironically makes his rhetoric this morning “intellectually dishonest.”)

The Hill reported today that the left is pushing hard to see the end of all negotiations with Grassley. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure what more Grassley would have to do. He’s not only staunchly opposed to Democratic ideas, Grassley also conceded yesterday he’s prepared to vote against his own compromise. Letting him dictate the process, when he’s quite obviously refusing to work in good faith, is insane.

Something Matt Yglesias said yesterday rang true for me: “If you want to see reform enacted, [Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus] needs to just write a bill he likes, talk to Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe about what kind of special lobster subsidies they’d like to see in it, and then you pass the thing. This isn’t brain surgery.”

If the Senate Democratic caucus agrees to let the chamber vote up or down on the bill, the lobster subsidies wouldn’t even be necessary.

Steve Benen

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.