Now that it is perfectly clear that there will be nothing resembling a public option in any health care bill that emerges from Congress, it would appear that Democrats are beginning to act the way Will Rogers expected them to. In other words, they are forming a firing squad in the shape of a circle, and letting fly with the political bullets.
Start with the fact that thanks to Tom Coburn, Bernie Sanders was forced to withdraw his health care amendment. This may seem like a mere procedural annoyance, except that in addition to withdrawing his amendment, Sanders has also said that he will not vote for health care reform in its present form. As the Think Progress post indicates, Sanders may still vote for cloture, and let the bill proceed to a final vote, but even that may not be certain.
Sanders may be moved to wreck the Senate version, ultimately, because people like Howard Dean are putting pressure on Democrats from the Left to kill the bill, and start over. Labor groups are reinforcing Dean’s stance. “Starting over” means adopting the House version and using the reconciliation process in order to ram the bill through any Republican filibuster. Of course, this would start a political nuclear war with Republicans, who would then use any and all procedural measures at their disposal to make life miserable for Senate Democrats. I don’t think that Harry Reid & Co. really want to go down this road.
Meanwhile, HopeAndChange has given way to DisillusionmentAndRage. Glenn Greenwald’s contempt for Team Obama now appears to be all-consuming. He is not alone; plenty of Democratic Representatives and Senators are also enraged with the White House. The critiques are stinging the Obama Administration, with Robert Gibbs attacking Dean and suggesting that the good doctor is “irrational.” (That ought to go over well in Democratic efforts to heal the political breach.)
About the only problem Republicans may have with this entire situation is a lack of popcorn with which to fully enjoy the political spectacle. Of course, I don’t rule out the possibility that the worm may turn, and Democrats may get their collective act together. But that scenario is becoming harder and harder to envision, now isn’t it?