How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Reading Slog’s account of Sen. Maria Cantwell’s supposed conversion on healthcare reform, it’s like deja vu all over again regarding perhaps the most enigmatic member of Washington state’s congressional delegation. First Cantwell was under attack for not taking a forceful position on the public option and other reforms, and now she’s being praised for her sudden burst of leadership.

And the conclusion?

And the bottom line for those, like Moon, who were raising a ruckus over Cantwell’s apparent wavering on the public option: the pressure worked.

Yeah, well, maybe. But this sort of scenario has played out so many times over the past few years, you’ve gotta wonder if what frequent critics consider to be her “apparent wavering,” really isn’t just an artifact of Cantwell’s methodical, deliberate and relatively effective legislative style? I mean, keeping up the political pressure doesn’t hurt, but the raft of amendments Cantwell has offered to the Baucus bill suggest that she’s been neck deep in the details for quite some time, and an active participant in the thorny, behind-closed-doors negotiations within the Senate Finance Committee.

So could it be that the type of public podium-rattling many of us progressives demand, just isn’t a good fit to Cantwell’s wonkish personality, or to the brand of quiet, insider leadership she seems to prefer? And do we make a mistake by assuming she’s less progressive than she really is?

In fact, Cantwell’s reputation as a bit of a pro-business centrist seems to be distorted by a genuine streak of pro-business centrism that fails to extend itself to nearly any other issue. Indeed when examining her voting record, you may be surprised to learn that Cantwell proves just as progressive as her more high-profile colleague, Sen. Patty Murray, and the presumably progressive stalwart Rep. Jay Inslee.  And on healthcare issues? Cantwell ranks the most progressive of the three, scoring an impressive 98.54% over her lifetime in office.

So did Cantwell cave to constituent pressure by coming out strong for the public option in the end, or did she hold steady in the face of mounting criticism from the left, by refusing to publicly say anything that might jeopardize her private negotiations?

I don’t know. But knowing how stubborn Cantwell can be, and her lack of passion for retail politics, I don’t think it’s safe to assume the former.


  1. 1

    you will be told the truth spews:

    she’s not out in front leading on public option.

    there’s a thousand right winers leading the other way.

    and btw what behind the scenes negotiations are you talking about? presumed ones?

    there’s not one GOP finance member who’s for any Baucus bill.

    Do you think that UK France Australia Canada et al. got their good health care systems with moderate centrist pro business legislators working quietyly and wonkishly behind the scenes to carefully craft super smart legislation and get behind the scenes negotiations in favor of good health care systems?

    Has it ever been enacted without a fight and without a large and noisy social movement?

    She’s had all year to decide things like public option. she’s been silent.

    When does silence lead social change?

  2. 3

    ArtFart spews:

    “Has it ever been enacted without a fight and without a large and noisy social movement?”

    Uh….do they ever do anything “large and noisy” in Canada? Other than hockey, that is.

  3. 4


    FWIW, I think the Iraq War pressure “stuck”. Maria’s been pretty damn good for quite some time now.

    She didn’t need to be prodded on healthcare … she’s been there for a while. If anything, she just needed to tighten her rhetoric on the issue. Whether that was a staff decision or “pressure” from the outside is an open question. (It could have been both.)

  4. 5

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Maria’s a pretty cagey operator. Remember she threw a huge wrench in Sen. Ted Stevens efforts to allow drilling in ANWR, while in the minority, and a freshman no less. For an encore she blocked his efforts to permit supertankers on Puget Sound which he tried to push through as revenge.

    She’s hip deep in just about any bill touching on energy in the Senate and will play a huge role in shaping any bill on carbon emissions.

  5. 6

    SJ Trollpatrol spews:


    I am also impressed that MC has, for the first time since the deaths of Magnuson and Jackson, appeared on campus and is talking with folks here in Seattle about healthcare.

    That is a big step to the good and consistent with Goldy’s POV on her. It certainly does not mean that Sen. Cantwell is deaf to the broader community but it does mean she is amenable to learning and listening to folks with real opposed to simplistic poltical .. information.

    Good news.

  6. 7

    SJ Trollpatrol spews:

    A lot of this fight now is being played out by folks like MC who actually are bsuiness like and really need facts.

    The other side, unfortunately for the nation, seems lacking in people of her caliber. It si more frightening than hopeful to listen to pundits of the right attmept to seriously discuss obamacare as if it had anything to do with death panels, immigrants, etc. They are wasting precious and expensiveness congressional resources that should be spent of real issues.

    My Bubby had a word for this crew .. “Pfehhhh.”

  7. 9

    Winston's doorknob spews:

    re 8: Congressperson Michelle Bachmann doesn’t fit the premise these guys (and gals, by golly!!) are working with.

    Money must be a huge variable as well. Sounds like politically correct Social Darwinism to me.

  8. 10

    jacksmith spews:

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option:

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option :-)

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW!

    No Triggers!


    Krugman on heathcare (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....ealthcare/)

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots:

    Howard Dean on the Public Option

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

  9. 11


    “[…] examining her voting record […]”

    The voting records of Senators don’t give much information. Thanks to the customs of the House of Lords Senate most of the deals are made behind closed doors, and many votes are made for appearance. If you want to know what a Senator cares about, look at the issues they return to and support in committee. And, given that, there is some hope in Cantwell. But, who knows?

  10. 12

    SJ Trollpatrol spews:

    My bigger concern for Sen Cantwell … as well as a number of the other locals .. is that they seem not do very well at maintaining local ties. Sen Murry is a wonderful exception to that rule but until recently Cantwell seemed to me to think she was hired to be a Senator but not esp. a Senator from here.

    I do not mean just pork issues. I mean that she needs to use her constituency for expertise and knowledge. NOT being involved in healthcare makes no effin sense when your state has as its thrid largest industry the UW S of M.

  11. 13

    John425 spews:

    Inslee is a fucking liar. He e-mailed me his position on HR3200 and was adamant that illegals weren’t covered. Then, in committee, the cocksucker voted to delete any citizenship verification necessary to weed them out of the healthcare insurance program.

  12. 14

    X'ad spews:

    12. John425 spews:

    Inslee is a fucking liar. He e-mailed me his position on HR3200 and was adamant that illegals weren’t covered. Then, in committee, the cocksucker voted to delete any citizenship verification necessary to weed them out of the healthcare insurance program.

    Isn’t John 4:25 a gospel reference? My, you and Cynical and Puddy surely do represent your religion well. Can I show this to children in the neighborhood and tell them that a committed Christian wrote it?

  13. 15

    headless spews:

    re 13: John:425 lets himself get really steamed about things. He’s like Don Rickles without the humor or intelligence.

    Just the steam.

    He’s like Lewis Black only with a laser focus on stoopid.

  14. 17

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Maybe it’s an area code X’ad. 425 is all around except in Seattle which is 206.

    Butt, Puddy is shocked SHOCKED that another HA libtardo cares about the Bible. Don’t care what headless and his 31 voices think.

  15. 18

    X'ad spews:

    Well, if you look up the citation, it IS interesting. And kinda relevant to ALL this. But I hadn’t realized the area code, you may be correct.

  16. 19


    and yet nobody dares respond to John425’s post about how Inslee, and the rest of the freak liberals, LIED about illegal aliens getting covered….

    Just like ACORN, you all choose to ignore the lying and crookery from your own camp.

    party first, nation second….

  17. 20


    YLB @ 19

    I personally didn’t respond because it’s a) off topic and b) nonsensical.

    Per John425’s comment, Inslee said the BILL didn’t fund healthcare for “illegal immigrants”. From John425’s telling, we don’t know Inslee’s position either way.

    Here we are again. In today’s episode, where John425 imagines words that were not spoken, and you concoct motives that don’t exist, rational people would call your actions “make believe”.

    Kind of like those soccer players faking getting fouled. And just as convincing. All part of the kabuki dance.



  18. 21

    John425 spews:

    It’s the area code, dickheads. There is a great big area code world outside your tiny little La-la land.

  19. 22

    chicagoexpat spews:

    I have little doubt that Cantwell will show her true colors. that is, against real healthcare reform.

    After voting “for” a public option that Obama is letting go down in flames, she’ll the turn around and vote for any piece of crap bill that simply has the word “reform” in it.

    I mean, the Democrats are hardly going to turn their backs on the mega bucks the insurance companies want to throw at them, ehhhh?