There is a great misunderstanding as to why the Democrats are desperately seeking out Olympia Snowe to make a deal with on health care. It's not that they believe that if they get one Republican vote they can call the bill bipartisan. No one believes that's credible. And they actually don't need her vote to get the bill passed, because if they had the will to do it, they have 60 senators in their caucus to defeat a Republican filibuster and take an up and down vote on the bill.
No, they're desperate to get her on board so that they can pretend they had to compromise with her. She's their cover. Or their beard, if you like. You see, the corporatist Democrats (Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, Mike Ross, Rahm Emanuel) have always wanted to get in bed with the health care industry. They want to keep the lobbyist money squarely in the Democratic corner. If Snowe blows their cover and they have no Republican votes - they have no discernible reason to "compromise" away important parts of reform like the public option. Who are they compromising with? The jig is up. They're out of excuses. There would be no reason not to do a strong version of reform.
That is also why the Republicans would be furious with Snowe if she does the deal. Because what do they care if the Democrats get one Republican vote? You think they'd let the Democrats get away with calling that bipartisan? And the Republicans have said a million times that the Democrats have enough votes to get this bill passed on their own, if they had the stones to do it. They're practically goading them into it. Why? Because they want to tell industry that the Democrats screwed them and can't be trusted. There's only one place where their money is safe.
While we've all been having an earnest debate about what should go in the bill and how it should get done, the real fight in Washington has been over who's going to get the corporate money. Who is better positioned through this bill to get more access to lobbyist largess? That's what all of this positioning has been about. That's why there are reports out now that the White House is feverishly pursuing Olympia Snowe as we speak, perhaps even accepting her ridiculous trigger clause.
And now it looks like they might get her. Why? Because her numbers in Maine just slipped down to 54%. The art of American politics is figuring out how to deceive the electorate into thinking you're working for them for as long as possible while you funnel as much money as possible into your campaign coffers from corporate lobbyists. It's a virtuous circle for the politicians because the more money they have the more people they can trick into voting for them. If you get too close to the flame though, you can get burned. So Snowe will run back to the middle, and she'll get corporate money anyway for putting together the "compromise" (i.e. the corporate written reform bill that makes private health care companies even more money than they were making before through such things as "mandates" with no public option).
And the guys left out in the cold will be the Republican Party because they were useless to the lobbyists (the Democrats are the party in power and they play ball just as well as the Republicans). More money goes to the Democratic Party, they build on their majorities, Rahm Emanuel goes home with a big, fat smile on his face.
Oh wait, I feel like I'm leaving someone out of this? Oh right, there is someone else who gets screwed here - you.