Among other things, what caught my eye was Stupak's observation that "“This isn’t an appropriations bill where you try to get the best projects for your state.” It pointed out a truth that has been lurking in the shadows since Senator Tom Harkin minimized Nelson's (and other Democrats') sellouts, insisting that the legalized payoffs to their states is "small stuff."
There's a distinction to be made here. Obviously, people are rightly upset about the quantity of wasteful earmark spending that routinely goes into appropriations bills -- and we can only hope that the Republicans will find a way to present some meaningful reforms of that system going into next year's elections.
But there's a world of difference between trying to get a special deal for one's state -- an earmark -- inserted into an appropriations bill, and accepting special deals in exchange for supporting sweeping new legislation that will affect every American and about one-sixth of the economy.
When senators are simply running up the cost of an appropriations bill to secure goodies for the home folks, it's hardly admirable -- but unless reforms are in place, it's to be expected. That's what senators representing specific constituencies -- states -- do, especially when they're depending on that state to re-elect them.
In contrast, when it comes to a matter of national magnitude like this ungodly health care bill, one expects more of senators -- that they'll act like members of a national legislature, as they are, rather than as just representatives of their own particular states. And that means they're supposed to take into account the national impact of a bill like this one, rather than simply taking a parochial (legal) bribe.
If the bill wasn't good enough for the country that it deserved a senator's support before the handout, he shouldn't be willing to support it simply in return for favors for the home-folks.