As we move into the hopefully final unproductive week of summer, the question of where things go on healthcare reform is both wide open... and pretty well wrecked. It's hard to see how progress can be made on the current mish-mash of bills (especially the painfully nonexistent bill yet to be produced by Senate Finance), but any sense of the alternatives, or a negotiated deal or giving up all together... is entirely unclear.
Already, the Washington, mass media conversation is moving away from specific reforms to "horse race" questions of who's up, who's down, and what went wrong... along with mournful sobs of "if only Teddy were here" which continue to overstate what Kennedys actually do. It would be helpful to have a Ted Kennedy just now for two rather basic reasons: he knew stuff, and he did the work to get it done. Beyond that, progressive dreams that Teddy would have ended private health insurance when no one else could... are pretty much fantasy.
Without agreeing to the rules of the blame game, I think it is probably time to asses what's not working, figure out some sense of why, and figure out if anything can be done. Ever the optimist, I think we will, ultimately, see some sort of healthcare reform. My bet, though, is that it will be modest, fairly incremental, and please probably no one... a result that will hurt Democrats and the President more than Republicans.