At this point more people (at least in the U.S.) probably know Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck more for his remark that “laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made,” than for his central role in unifying Germany back in the mid-1800s.
In addition to having an Oscar Wildean point and wit, the truth of the remark plays out daily as legislatures grind their way through whatever it is they are supposed to be making.
The current debate over health care reform once again proves how on target Bismarcks remark was and also proves that our own U.S. Senate, that august gathering of 100 solons, is not only the worlds greatest deliberative body, but also the worlds greatest sausage maker.
The progress (to be kind) of the deliberations in the Senate Finance Committee has been painful to watch, to put it mildly. This was less so when it was only the Gang of Six that was attempting to construct what would be the Senates version of reform. At that point, it was only the leaks that had to be followed in the course of those ultra-secret negotiations. But now that the game is public, we cant escape the unseemliness of the process.
[See a previous blog entry for some interesting information on the Gang of Six.]
But even before the process went public it was painful to see poor Sen. Max Baucus, the Finance Committees chairman, twisting himself into the senatorial version of a pretzel in order to try to achieve a bipartisan solution for health care reform.
Poor Max! All that twisting and turning for naught! Not a single Republican member of the committee supported his draft. And it was pitiful as well to see how Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican member of the committee, drew further and further away from Baucus, with whom he had worked so closely with in the past.