There’s been a lot of suggestion this week that Ted Kennedy’s death might be a moment that brings his former colleagues in Congress together with a renewed sense of purpose, one that forces them to bridge their differences, to work together to pass meaningful health reform as a tribute to him. I think Ted would have been the first to tell us not to bet on that. Politicians rarely set aside their own interests for the sake of someone else’s legacy.
So where do things go from here? That is impossible to predict. Coming out of this raucous August recess, with polls showing falling public support (particularly among independents and older voters) for the current bills, many people that I have been talking to are saying what is needed is nothing short of a “relaunch.” There is also a sense in Washington that the bill is going to have to be scaled down. But that raises other problems. Here’s a brief story I wrote about where things appear to stand.