Critical Condition

Snowe Isn’t the Answer

Howard Fineman writes: 

…the pursuit of Snowe is pretty close to obsessive, which is not a good thing either for Democrats or for the prospects of health-care reform worthy of the name. First, Snowe’s exaggerated prominence is both the result and symbol of Obama’s quixotic and ultimately time–wasting pursuit of “bipartisanship.” In case the White House hasn’t noticed, Republicans in Congress are engaged in what amounts to a sitdown strike. They don’t like anything about Obama or his policies; they have no interest in seeing him succeed. Despite the occasional protestation to the contrary, the GOP has no intention of helping him pass any legislation. Snowe may very well end up voting for whatever she and Democrats craft, but that won’t make the outcome bipartisan any more than dancing shoes made Tom DeLay Fred Astaire.

Nor would Snowe’s vote mollify the GOP grassroots: they don’t think of her as a Republican anyway. ….

In their stubborn belief that Snowe’s blessing will stand as a testament to Obama’s powers of inclusiveness, the president and his Democratic allies seem to have lost sight of the real point of all this flattery and praise: the need to pass a bill Americans can actually understand and that will make health care secure for all while also reducing costs. The symbolism of Snowe gets them no closer to that. (The final tally in the finance committee was 14–9. Snowe’s “aye” vote, so hard won, was unnecessary.)