Let’s just say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t seem all that enthused about the bipartisan, on-camera health care meeting this week. “Yeah. I think in all likelihood I'll be there. We're discussing the sort of makeup of the room and that sort of thing, but… my members will be there and ready to participate.”
Still did we hear the nascent sounds of bipartisanship when the senator was asked if he could support Majority Leader Harry Reid’s jobs bill with its small business tax breaks, “Well, we may well.” Then he said the bill needed to come to the Senate floor so it could be amended. Sic Transit Bipartisanship.
Elsewhere, the nation’s governors, strategically located this weekend in Washington for a meeting, were out in force on the Sunday talks. Raise your hands if you’re surprised California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger said the stimulus bill created jobs in his state and then turned on fellow Republicans in Congress for showing up at ribbon-cuttings for projects funded by the stimulus bill they opposed. He told ABC, “I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying this doesn't create any new jobs and then they go out and they do the photo ops and posing with the big check. And they say isn't this great?”
Did somebody put the good governor on the democratic talking points list? Think I’m kidding? Check out what the President said recently.
On CNN, across the board agreement (along with 86 percent of the public in our latest poll) that Washington is “broken.” Governors Deval Patrick (D-Mass) and National Governors Association Chair Jim Douglas (R-Vermont) agreed (off-cam) that they would never run for Congress and agreed (on cam) that governors are far more civilized and productive than their national counterparts. Gov. Patrick told me, “We are very well led in the National Governors Association by Jim Douglas, who is a great friend, and we work together on a number of things. And frankly, I think that the public I represent is keen to see more of the kind of cooperation that Governor Douglas and I share.”
Outgoing Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) likened the atmospherics on Capitol Hill to “tribal politics.” He suggested when the parties get together with the president for this week’s health care meeting, Republicans should check their “short-term political” interests at the door and Democrats should leave behind their “ideology”. Former Senator and Governor Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey) called the chances for success “slim”. He continued, “We need somebody to stand up the way Ted Kennedy stood up on Leave No Child Behind or the prescription drug benefit for seniors, to work with the president, and that needs to have bipartisan effort, and I think the president is making a legitimate offering to make that happen, and I hope that we follow through.”
Also of note, Colin Powell, Republican and Obama voter, said he thinks the president missed the point (the economy) by focusing too much on health care in his first year. He told CBS, “As I go around the country and talk to people, they know that health care has to be fixed. They know we need more in education. They know we need to do more with energy. But they don't see that as their main priorities. And as the president went into these areas, all of which are important. It's a disgrace that we have millions of people who are uninsured. But at the same time, in the eyes of the American people, in my judgment, it looked as if that somehow had become more important than the main attack, which was fix the economy and get the Americans working again.”
Sunday. Sunday. Just love this day.