Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has been doing his best to end the negotiations, apparently agreeing with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's political assessment that health care could be President Obama's Waterloo. And now Grassley says he could sign only a compromise that a majority of the GOP caucus would support.
The problem is not that there is no Ted Kennedy type who understands the art of compromise among the Democrats. The problem is that there is no Republican willing to provide, for health reform, the kind of bold leadership that Kennedy provided to help pass controversial legislation when George W. Bush was president.
For example, No Child Left Behind become law because Kennedy agreed to support Bush's signal education initiative - angering more than a few members of the Democratic caucus and establishment who thought the act was wrong on the merits as well as poor politics. But Kennedy believed it was worth the risk, and he lent his prestige and credibility to making it happen.
Democrats did not get their way on the creation of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, but on that, too, Kennedy decided that something was better than nothing, even though seniors were required to buy their coverage through private companies and Medicare was prevented from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for the best prices.
Kennedy gave Bush a victory rather than sending the Republicans to their Waterloo because he believed the result was more important than short-term politics. If Republicans really want to honor the senator's memory, they should stop using him as an excuse for the failure of health-care reform and instead start living up to his example.
Geoff Garin is a Democratic pollster and strategist and the president of Hart Research Associates. This appeared in the Washington Post.