Enzi gives up on good-faith talks; White House notices

ENZI GIVES UP ON GOOD-FAITH TALKS; WHITE HOUSE NOTICES…. Let no one say the White House was impatient. Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, ostensibly a member of the Finance Committee’s farcical Gang of Six, kept trashing health care reform. President Obama and other Democratic leaders kept pretending Enzi was negotiating in good faith, reality notwithstanding.

This weekend, however, Enzi delivered the Republicans’ weekly address, and he went too far. Enzi denounced the Democratic reform proposals, using painfully dishonest rhetoric, and even lending credence to the “death panel” garbage. It was an ugly display for anyone, but that the scripted remarks came from a Gang of Six member made Enzi’s diatribe particularly ridiculous.

Apparently, the White House has seen and heard enough. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that Enzi obviously is no longer committed to the process that the senator has been involved with for months.

“It appears that at least in Senator Enzi’s case, he doesn’t believe there’s a pathway to get bipartisan support, and the president thinks that’s wrong,” Gibbs said. “I think Senator Enzi’s clearly turned over his cards on bipartisanship and decided that it’s time to walk away from the table.”

Gibbs added, “The president is firmly committed to working with Democrats, Republicans, independents, anybody that wants to see progress on health care reform.” That group, at long last, no longer seems to include Mike Enzi.

His role in the process won’t be missed. The idea of including Enzi in the talks in the first place never made any sense. Krugman recently noted that negotiating with Enzi on reform is “the quest for bipartisanship gone stark raving mad.”

If that quest is over, and I sincerely hope it is, it’s a very positive development. The less Enzi is involved in the process, the better the chances of a quality bill becoming law.