Nate Silver, statistician wunderkind and liberal darling, won applause from all across the blogosphere this morning for observing that the one real fan of the the Baucus plan for health-care reform is, well, Baucus himself. Silver notes that the senator not only ditched attempts to win over Republicans, but lost the most important Democratic "thought leaders on health care reform" in the process.
But let's be clear -- some of this is Baucus's chickens coming home to roost. When you make a unilateral decision to negotiate with only five other people from a 23-person committee and 100-person Senate, and two of those five people have clear electoral disincentives against supporting any plan that you might come up with, the negotiations are liable to end in failure far more often than not. The flurry of on-the-record statements against Baucus's reform plans -- not "leaks", not trial balloons -- points toward a defective process.Silver, who posted at two in the morning, was linked approvingly both by pro-reform liberals and anti-reform libertarians such as Megan McArdle, who called Silver's headline her favorite of the week: "Baucus Compromise Bill Draws Enthusiastic Support of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)." The universally negative pundit reaction since the bill was published this afternoon has only borne out Silver's prediction.