"The Leader of the Pack"
Ezra Klein hails the people he regards as the heroes of health reform:
So let this serve as an encomium to Ron Wyden, Tom Harkin, Chuck Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller, among many others. All of these senators could have been the 60th vote. All of them had issues they believe in and worked for. Chris Dodd built and passed a bill. Sherrod Brown whipped up liberal support for the public option. Chuck Schumer spent countless hours devising compromises and searching for new paths forward. Ron Wyden spent years crafting the Healthy Americans Act, getting a CBO score, pulling together co-sponsors, speaking to activists and industry groups and other legislators. Jay Rockefeller has spent decades on this issue and wasn’t even invited into the Gang of Six process.
Ezra wants to single them out for recognition for not taking the opportunity to “go Lieberman” and hold the entire project hostage to their particular concerns.
I think it’s worth sparing a thought in this regard for the much-maligned Harry Reid. It seems like it was only three years ago that Jacob Weisberg was explaining to people that Reid and Pelosi were so icky, liberal, and inept that Republicans could stay in power forever or something. And liberals have rarely found themselves hailing Reid’s leadership. But the fact of the matter is that there’s almost no precedent for the legislative mission he’s been asked to accomplish of turning 59 Democrats, one loosely Democrat-aligned Independent, and two slightly moderate Republicans into 60 votes for a package that’s simultaneously a dramatic expansion of the welfare state and a measure that reduces both short- and long-term deficits.
On top of the intrinsically difficult nature of the task, he’s facing a really ugly political situation back home. Since Beltway mores dictate that you can never hold a member of congress morally culpable for actions undertaken in the name of raw politically self-interest, it must have been very tempting for Reid to get distracted. But he’s stayed on point and focused, dealt with the timid members of his caucus, dealt with the ignorant members of his caucus, dealt with the egomaniacal members of his caucus, and dealt with the all-too-typical Senatorial combination of policy ignorance, egomania, and political cowardice among some members. For his troubles it looks like we’re going to get a bill that liberals feel churlish about at best. But it’s really an extraordinary achievement.