Paging Ezra Klein

Back on Tuesday, Chris Matthews offered the following thoughts on the politics of health care:

Now, if a Democrat were smart, who gets elected president, they wouldn’t go back to the old Canadian model, where they’re all—you know, single-payer model. They’d say, “Wait a minute. Why don’t I take something that looks practical out of Massachusetts with Mitt Romney, something practical that Schwarzenegger’s trying to do, and put my name on it and say, ‘Let’s try that. Let’s try some kind of mandated benefit. Let’s try some kind of effort where businesses and young people have to pay their way. Let’s do something that sounds vaguely Republican and self-reliant’ “—if you’re a Democrat. You know why? Because it would pass! And you’d have national health insurance! But if you keep pushing from your ideological end, you never get there.

It’s a good thing Matthews has no familiarity whatsoever with the health care proposals of the major Democratic Party presidential candidates. What he’s advising Democrats to do is exactly what Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have proposed, it’s similar to what Barack Obama’s put forward, and it’s identical to what Ron Wyden is working on legislatively. Indeed, there’s a prohibitive (and, I think, wrong) consensus in left-of-center health policy circles that abandoning single-payer in favor of something like what Matthews is proposing is the way to go. Most interestingly of all, Matthews goes on television to talk about politics for a living.