If I’d met a person in real life acting as Sen. Max Baucus does on the floor of the Senate, I would probably assume he’d gotten into the wassail a little early. It’s obviously not the Scandal of the Century™, but it is quite bizarre to have one of the chief architects of the Senate health care bill seemingly intoxicated on national TV (well, C-SPAN, but you get the idea).
Even apparently drunk, Sen. Baucus can still rattle off the talking points about GOP obstructionism and lack of bipartisanship. Whether it’s coming from Baucus or from any other left-leaning luminary, I don’t understand this argument – you’d think Democrats would be happy Republicans didn’t try to muck up their bill with GOP agenda items, and you’d think they’d be happy to claim sole ownership of such a fantastic bill. Any bill with a public option or massive spending is pretty much unsupportable from a conservative point of view, so the Democrats’ insistence on their inclusion was what drove away the moderates like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe that may have supported it. After it got scrapped to get Lieberman’s vote, the damage was done. Obviously the Republicans wouldn’t be interested in helping the Democrats out, and the Democrats had more interest in passing an ideological agenda item than truly reaching a bipartisan consensus.
It goes hand in hand with the recent buzz about killing the obstructionist filibuster – even though Democrats used it during Bush’s term to hold up judicial nominees. Now that they’re in power, though, it’s too inconvenient and doesn’t allow for a quick ram-through of legislation (even though Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes).
Politico has asked Sen. Baucus’ office for details regarding his behavior with no response so far. Regardless, it seems that even while wasted Democrats can project their own problems on an opposition party that has very little minority control over the majority’s agenda. It would probably drive me to drink, too.