The contrast between Chuck Grassley's increasingly obvious signals that he has no intention to support health care reform and Max Baucus's insistence that negotiations are absolutely fine is making Baucus look increasingly pathetic. Grassley has been railing against a fictitious "government takeover" of health care and fanning fears of "death panels." He stopped participating in Gang of Six negotiations during the August recess because of a supposedly packed schedule. And now he's saying as explicitly as you can that he no longer supports reform at all:
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a key Republican negotiator in the quest for bipartisan health-care reform, said Wednesday that the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings this month has fundamentally altered the nature of the debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort....
While Snowe said she is hearing a passionate cry for action on health care from her constituents, Grassley, who is up for reelection next year, said Iowans are more interested in making sure that Congress does not mess up what they already have.
Calls for reform are "not quite as loud as people that say we ought to slow down or don't do anything," he said. "And I've got to listen to my people."
Meanwhile, here's Baucus in the same article:
Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the Democrats' chief negotiator in the talks, issued a statement saying his group "is on track to reach a bipartisan agreement on comprehensive health-care reform that can pass the Senate." A senior Democratic aide involved in the talks and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said they remain convinced that Grassley is bargaining in good faith.
Is this some kind of parody? Baucus is coming off as some kind of clueles, about-to-be-dumped girlfriend:
WASHINGTON -- Friends of Maxine and Chuck have reported stress in their relationship. Over the last few months, Chuck has been seen speaking at length with a former girlfriend in a bar, and then walking out together at 2:00 in the morning. He has also put off their engagement by forty-seven months since his first initial, vague committment to the notion. He recently failed to appear at a dinner commemorating the six-year anniversary of their meeting, citing an unspecified prior engagement. A crisis moment of sorts seems to have been reached at a meeting last night, when he told Maxine that he felt suffocated by the relationship and expressed his belief that Maxine could do better.
Maxine, however, batted down any talk of difficulties. "Chuck and I are doing great," she said. "We're on track to get married next June."