Saturday, October 17, 2009

The paradoxical power of the Snowe effect

In an ideal world, smart, rational Republicans would balance the worst instincts of my team.

These mythical Republicans would know that government has its own flaws, that my team’s backers can be misled by self-interest and constituency politics. They’d remind us that markets can solve optimization problems better than any planner.

Unfortunately, in this world, the GOP is the Party of Torture, Cheney, Palin, Beck and Limbaugh.

Except … for two senators from Maine – Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Chance, and the complete abdication of the Party of Beck, has made Olympia Snowe immensely powerful in this particular debate. She has the same impact as would, in better times, 20 sane GOP senators …

Why One Vote Matters in the Senate - Room for Debate Blog -

… The country, frankly, is fortunate that the one holding the most cards is Olympia Snowe. Few public officials are as honest, principled, independent and smart as she is. The bargains she is striking to enable a bill to pass are almost all aimed at improving the quality of the health reform bill and helping more people to get health insurance coverage and health care. It may be unfortunate that one person, representing a tiny sliver of Americans, has so much power. We could do a lot worse…

Snowe is best known, to my team, as the enemy of the public option that’s favored by two of our top leaders – Reich and Krugman. 

Maybe that’s not all bad. I could believe that while the public option might be a very good theoretical idea, it might also be politically disastrous. Maybe we need to find a 2nd best option, knowing that we’re going to have to revisit health care reform many times in the decades to come.

It’s a sad day for America that the GOP is shattered, but, at least for the moment, we have a reasonable proxy to the mythical GOP we never had. Maine, you rate.

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