The Senate: an unprincipled body
Well, tomorrow is the big day. The Senate vote on health-care reform is set for 8 a.m. And it will have all the suspense of waiting for Santa to slink down the chimney.
Getting to this point was u-gly. People we thought were standing on principle apparently liked standing on bags of cash. I'm not a fan of the word "bribe" being thrown around to describe the $100 million offerd to Nebraska to get the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). But Michael Gerson takes issue with the Nelson cave-in that has made me rethink my aversion to the word.
I can respect those who are pro-life out of conviction and those who are pro-choice out of conviction. It is more difficult to respect politicians willing to use their deepest beliefs -- and the deepest beliefs of others -- as bargaining chips.
Gerson is right. Nelson made it seem like his opposition to abortion was made of bedrock. Instead, it appears it was as squishy as quicksand.
Mika Brzezinski brought up the Gerson piece as part of "Mika's must-read op-eds" on "Morning Joe." Guest Tina Brown, of The Daily Beast, said she wanted to know what other senators got. The Post's Dana Milbank had a list of them yesterday.
Interestingly, the conversation quickly moved to Republican obstruction in the Senate negotiations, particularly the intransigence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Brown brought up his tough reelection fight as a reason why he has abandoned his maverick moniker. Perhaps she was channeling Maureen Dowd, who wrote today, "Once a constructive independent, John McCain now is such a predictable obstructionist that he’s in the just-say-no vanguard with the same conservatives who used to despise him."
But just as Gerson questions the deeply held principles of Nelson, Dowd questions whether McCain stands for anything anymore. Her column is a lament of the transformation of the old McCain, who considered the press his constituents in 2000, into the new McCain, who kicked her off his campaign plane in 2008. "With President Obama, McCain's objections seem motivated more by vendetta than principle," Dowd writes. And she notes, "Even some of McCain's former aides are disturbed by the 73-year-old's hostile, vindictive, sarcastic persona."
Hostile? Vindictive? Sarcastic? Sounds like Sarah Palin had more influence on McCain than we thought.
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