One view suggests Baucus is fulfilling his political destiny. The Montana senator, a Democrat and chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has prepared his entire 34-year career in Congress for this role. He's a savvy centrist. His political independence and the relationships he's fostered with senators on both sides of the aisle make him uniquely suited to broker intensely complicated negotiations among the most powerful people and special interests in Washington, D.C. Colleagues claim no one works harder than Baucus. He's spent more than a year—beginning well before President Obama took office and made health care reform his top domestic priority—holding hearings and educating committee members on the nuances of the issue. Baucus himself calls the process fun.
That being the case, if Baucus can savage the health care bill so much, and still not get significant Republican support, I think it would be fair to say his career is a failure. Is 34 years as a savvy, cooperative centrist finally culminating in a committee chairmanship and more than a year of hearings and devastating compromises not enough to win a couple Republican votes?