Master Of The Senate Mastered The Art Of The Kill, Too

News of the day: Waxman says he'll go around Blue Dogs if they don't negotiate; Ross says negotiations are over.

A delay in the House is tough, given the energy previous exhibited by that body this year. Think a bit about the Senate, Lyndon B. Johnson famously twisted the arms of his Senate colleagues to pass legislation. That's the CW takeway from his term as majority leader. But if you've taken the time to read your Robert Caro, you'll know that the corollary to the progressive arm-twisting was Johnson's mastery of the Senate rules to block legislation he didn't want. What was his favorite tactic? Delay. Delay in the Senate kills. The saucer goes cold.   Committees, hearings, negotiations, reports, those were his methods of slowly bleeding to death bills instead of outright blocking them. One you've slowed things down, it's hard to speed them back up.  That ought to be a cause for anxiety for those who want health care reform passed.

On the other hand, the more Republicans keep blocking for the sake of blocking, the more they talk about the potential political benefits of stopping health care, the more they are going to create a "high noon" showdown with Obama.  And as we saw during the campaign, whenever people said he was down and out he game back swinging and won.

Everyone now is obsessed with the day to day details, and the committee process, but the real decisions and end game is going to be in the conference committee, the White House has powder they are keeping dry until they see the whites of their eyes.