Snowe’s weak excuse

SNOWE’S WEAK EXCUSE…. By all appearances, the White House, from the outset, made an effort to garner bipartisan support for health care reform. At least in the Senate, that now appears impossible. Democrats no longer need Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-Maine) vote, but they sought it out anyway, to no avail.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican who had been considered a possible Democratic ally, said she would oppose the measure because it was being rushed. “It is a take-it-or-leave-it package,” she said.

I just can’t figure out what on earth Snowe is talking about. She voted with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee reform plan, but now appears to be looking for an excuse to oppose the effort. But to sound even remotely credible, Snowe will have to do better than this.

For one thing, it’s a “take-it-or-leave-it package”? Democrats have been willing to give Snowe just about anything she asked for. That’s the opposite of a “take-it-or-leave-it package.”

For another, nothing about this has been “rushed.” Snowe has been complaining about the speed of the legislative process since July, but therein lies the point: how could this possibly get slower?

Congress and the White House have been debating health care reform since about March. It was debated last year during the presidential campaign. It was debated the year before during the presidential primaries. It was debated at length during the Clinton reform effort, which followed previous debates during previous presidents’ efforts. America has been debating health care reform, off and on, since the days of Harry Truman.

Support the bill or don’t, but complaining about speed is silly.

Just two months ago, when Snowe broke with her party and supported the Baucus health care bill, she said, “Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. But when history calls, history calls.”

History is still calling, and Snowe has decided to let it ring. She can’t, however, seem to explain why.

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Steve Benen

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.