A pat on the head for the sum total of his Republican support on this issue, proudly echoed later by Gibbs when he declared — no joke — “We have today a bipartisan bill.” Like Marc Ambinder and Jay Cost, I’m mystified as to why anyone thought Snowe might vote no. What would she have gained by doing that when we’re still this early in the process? There are fully four more votes to come: The cloture vote on the final Senate bill, the vote on the bill itself, and then the cloture vote and final vote on whatever emerges from the conference committee with the House. If she walked away now, she’d have no further influence on how the legislation evolves; as it is, The One will have to work to keep her happy or else she’ll bolt and the GOP will hammer him with talking points about how ObamaCare’s too far left even for Olympia Snowe. Whatever you think of her vote on the merits, strategically it’s a no-brainer.
Cost is right too about how, for all the hype, today’s vote doesn’t do much to move the ball forward. Read Karl’s Greenroom piece to see why. Yesterday’s PriceWaterhouse report was a warning from the insurance industry to Obama that they’re ready to go to war to stop the Baucus bill; now that the Finance Committee’s thrown down the gauntlet, here comes the first multistate, million-dollar ad buy, no doubt with plenty more to come. Will the public support gained from today’s, ahem, “bipartisan” vote be greater than the public support lost after weeks and weeks of industry advertising targeting seniors? We’ll see, but I know which way I’m betting. Exit question: Has there ever been a more mindlessly pompous rationale for supporting a bill than “When history calls, history calls”? Is there any legislation to which that idiotic sentiment couldn’t be applied? Privatizing social security? Declaring war on Iran? Anything?