THE NATURE OF ‘COMPROMISE’…. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) chatted with Chris Matthews yesterday on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” and they had an interesting discussion.

The host asked whether there is any possible scenario in which the Republican senator would support health care reform. Hatch said it’s possible. Matthews added, “Well, suppose they drop the public option and put in tort reform. Would you sign on? Right on that trade, right there. Get rid of the public option and go to tort reform.”

Hatch was non-committal, so the host pressed further: “Well, would you be on the bill? Would you be on the bill then, or is it just a stupid negotiation? Are the Democrats negotiating with themselves? If no Republicans will join, why should they compromise with nobody?”

At that point, Hatch offered a nonsensical answer about “state laboratories” and the notion that Democrats “think everything can be solved by spending.” In other words, when pressed on why Democrats should even bother negotiating with the GOP, Hatch didn’t have an answer.

The discussion then turned to abortion funding, and Hatch’s efforts to add additional restrictions. After the senator explained what he wants to do, Matthews added, “Except you still won’t vote for the bill.”

Which is, of course, true. The Senate is considering a variety of Republican-led changes to a bill that Republicans intend to reject anyway.

In the same interview, around the same time Hatch said health care reform is wrong for the country unless it gets “at least 70 votes,” the Republican senator argued, “I have to tell you, the Democratic party has gone very far to the left…. and to be honest with you, I don’t know many moderate Democrats.”

First, if Dems had gone “very far to the left,” they’d be pushing single-payer, instead of a public-private competition. Second, if Hatch considers Sens. Nelson, Bayh, Landrieu, Carper, Pryor, Lincoln, Baucus, and Conrad to be liberal, his perspective is more than a little twisted.

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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.