From Ezra Klein, meditating on what it will take to get Republicans to act like grownups:
The lesson of this process has been that the only path to bipartisanship — if one in fact exists — is effective partisanship.
Indeed. But he's right. Call me Pollyanna if you want, but I continue to think that beneath all the hysterical political theater of August, not that much has changed. Support for healthcare reform has always been broad but shallow, and to the extent that some of that support has turned into opposition, that opposition is also shallow. Among independents, there's a good chance that a lot of that newfound opposition can be turned around as the stage moves back to Washington DC and the conversation becomes a little quieter.
What's more, I think Republicans know this, which is why they're continuing to bluster so loudly. For reasons that have always escaped me, the media takes conservative bluster a lot more seriously than liberal bluster, and Republicans are taking advantage of this by trying to win the debate simply by loudly claiming they've won the debate. But they know they haven't, and if Democrats seriously hold out the threat of passing healthcare reform via reconciliation — which requires only 51 votes and would therefore produce legislation much more liberal than a bill passed via standard order — Republicans are likely to give in and start negotiating in tolerably good faith. Enough of them, anyway, to pass a bill.
This is the real threat, I think, not all the clamor pro and con over the public option. The reconciliation process has problems of its own, but in the end Democrats can do whatever they want if Joe Biden is willing to play along and they don't lose their nerve. Republicans know this. If it becomes clear that Democrats are serious, they'll cave and Obama will get his bill.