Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 26, 2009

ENZI EXPLAINS HIS APPROACH TO NEGOTIATIONS.... Sen. Mike Enzi (R) of Wyoming, one of the Senate Finance Committee's Gang of Six, hosted a town-hall meeting on Monday in which most of his constituents urged him to drop out of the negotiations.

One constituent said he was bothered by President Obama's praise of Enzi, and said the far-right senator has a duty to terminate discussions on reform. Enzi responded by explaining his approach to the negotiations.

"If I hadn't been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care," he said.

"Someone has to be at the table asking questions," Enzi said, showing a flash of passion.

He later quoted a favorite saying: "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."

"It's not where I get them to compromise, it's what I get them to leave out," Enzi said.

This comes less than a week after Enzi told Roll Call that he's prepared to vote against his own compromise bill, if that's what the Republican Party wants.

Ryan Grim interpreted Enzi's remarks by concluding that the senator "told a Wyoming town hall crowd that he had no plans to compromise with Democrats and was merely trying to extract concessions." That seems like a reasonable reading of the remarks. Sure, Enzi may have been playing to the right-wing crowd a bit, but he nevertheless conceded publicly that his principle goal in the Gang of Six talks is to weaken the bill and force concessions from Democrats.

In order for negotiations to make any sense, participants have to be willing to engage in good faith. Is there anyone in their right mind who sitll thinks Enzi is committed to finding a bipartisan solution to health care reform?

As Krugman recently explained: "The central fact of the health care debate is that there is essentially no agreement on anything -- values, philosophy, vision of how the world works -- between the two sides. Progressives want universal coverage, and see an expanded government role as essential to getting there. Conservatives believe, in the face of all evidence, that free markets are the answer. And Enzi is very conservative. According to Vote View, my site for left-right rankings, Enzi was the 8th most conservative Senator in the last Congress -- almost in the same league as Inhofe or DeMint. This is the quest for bipartisanship gone stark raving mad."

Steve Benen 1:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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Ryan Grim interpreted Enzi's remarks by concluding that the senator "told a Wyoming town hall crowd that he had no plans to compromise with Democrats and was merely trying to extract concessions." That seems like a reasonable reading of the remarks.

Actually, that is an overly charitable reading of the remarks. When Enzi says

"If I hadn't been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care," he said

I think a fair reading is that he sees his role to delay, and kill if possible, comprehensive health care reform.

Posted by: zeitgeist on August 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto zeitgeist.
That quote sums it up:
"If I hadn't been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care," he said.

Constituents need to ask themselves, why is my representative so committed to not helping people?

Posted by: Jeff Wenker on August 26, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are having a hard time these days acknowledging that private industry has failed so miserably- the evidence is overwhelming. The insurance, banking, and auto titans have all failed miserably in various ways, and this pulls the rug out from under the wingnut world view that holds that private firms do everything better. Add in the fact that they are presently out of power, and it is no wonder that they are foaming and writhing as never before.

Posted by: gizmo on August 26, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well said Gizmo.

Posted by: Gandalf on August 26, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What power does the good senator have to force concessions when he refuses to give anything in return? Follow-up question, why is anybody even talking to him?

Compromise implies mutuality. What Enzi demands is surrender.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 26, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is the quest for bipartisanship gone stark raving mad.

That quest was always stark raving mad, and the longer Obama keeps at it, the lower my opinion of him goes.

Posted by: qwerty on August 26, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Enzi should spend some of his vacation time out in the fresh air, duck hunting with Cheney, instead of sweating it at townhalls.

Posted by: exlibra on August 26, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Bipartisanship" is something that Democrats owe Republicans.

It is not something that Republicans owe Democrats.

That quest was always stark raving mad, and the longer Obama keeps at it, the lower my opinion of him goes.

Obama appears sane to me; so I question his good faith. As for his defenders, the kindest thing I can say for them is that they are very wishful.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on August 26, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm Sorry but OBAMA IS AN IDIOT !!

WHY is he 'negotiating' with Republicans ?
This is CRIMINAL STUPIDITY

USE RECONCILIATION !!
GET IT DONE, OBAMA !!
NO EXCUSES

STOP TRYING TO BE President GOOD VIBES
STOP TRYING to BE President NICE GUY

GET ON WITH IT, OBAMA

Posted by: MSierra, SF on August 26, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

To Duncan and Msierra

While I understand your frustration, I can only say thank god neither of you was elected to the task of health care reform. You might have been mildly successful at pushing some version of reform, but you would have accomplished abso-fucking-lutely nothing else afterward, accept a big old mid-term handover of power to the republicans. You see, this "bitpartisanship" game had to be played even though we all knew how it was going to go. Polls show an overwhelming frustration with partisanship and support for bipartisanship. You must extend your hand even when you know it will be bitten. Now that it has teeth marks, pleasantries can be dispensed with.

Posted by: about time on August 26, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Polls show an overwhelming frustration with partisanship and support for bipartisanship. -about time

Actually, current polls show a rapid decline in Obama's and Congress' support from the left, primarily because of their clinically insane adherence to unrequited bipartisanship.

Given the attitude we've seen from the right, I would say that the goal of bipartisanship is in direct conflict with the goal of meaningful health insurance reform. What do you think will play well with the electorate? Universal health coverage or, "Well, we tried to work with them, don't blame us." Something has to give, and unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be the ridiculous Democratic love affair with bipartisanship.

Since you're so prescient about what could happen in the future, do tell me, what happens if reform fails because of unhinged protesters and bad faith negations? When that happens, then we'll accomplish "abso-fucking-lutely nothing else afterward."

Posted by: doubtful on August 26, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Constituents need to ask themselves, why is my representative so committed to not helping people?

Because the people who elect greedy, heartless assholes are themselves greedy, heartless assholes.

I'm to the point where I don't care about debating this with them. I just say "That's what Jesus would do, right? Keep poor people from getting healthcare? You're some Christian aren't you?"

Posted by: Al Swearengen on August 26, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

To about time

Your comment reminds me of a passage I once read in Robert K. Massie's biography of Peter the Great, concerning Persia's objections to Russian encroachments upon its territory in the Caucasus.

The Russians responded that the Persians should be grateful because this land was being seized by them, the Russians, who were their friends rather than by the Turks, who were their enemies.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on August 26, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK
about time@3:40: To Duncan and Msierra

While I understand your frustration, I can only say thank god neither of you was elected to the task of health care reform. You might have been mildly successful at pushing some version of reform, but you would have accomplished abso-fucking-lutely nothing else afterward, accept a big old mid-term handover of power to the republicans. You see, this "bitpartisanship" game had to be played even though we all knew how it was going to go. Polls show an overwhelming frustration with partisanship and support for bipartisanship. You must extend your hand even when you know it will be bitten. Now that it has teeth marks, pleasantries can be dispensed with.

This is exactly what I do with my mother-in-law's Chihuahua. I know it's going to bite me; which is precisely why I extend my hand... so I have an excuse to smack the tar out of him, and hope he finally gets the lesson.

DISCLAIMER (ooh, it feels good to type in all caps! Thanks, MSierra!): Actually, that's only what I'd *like* to do... but this does remind the mother-in-law that her dog hasn't been properly trained to deal with human's besides herself.

Posted by: JTK on August 26, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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