Want to know a great way to set the terms of a legislative debate? Have the President declare that an issue is greviously important (the bully pulpit is good for that) and announce that he will only sign a bill that falls inside certain parameters. Unless Congress thinks it can override his veto, subsequent debate internalizes whatever arbitrary guidelines the President just set. And it makes the President seem to care about something tangible rather than fetishizing some nebulous concept of process.
Meanwhile, in the most favorable environment imaginable for tangible reform Barack Obama will apparently sign whatever crappy health bill Max Baucus leaves on his desk. Baucus, meanwhile, has discovered all on his own that pushing the ‘compromise’ option to the leftmost edge of acceptable discourse makes an almost complete Republican victory that much more likely.
For a party that supposedly owns the internet, watching our leaders struggle with the Mad Men era is a little depressing.