No offense to Pennsylvania's junior Senator, but let's face it: not the most energizing speaker.
And if you support healthcare reform, you could use the energy. A vote earlier this week by the Senate's Finance Committee may well be the death-knell for hopes that a reform bill would contain a "strong public option" -- a government-offered insurance plan to compete with private insurers.
But supporters of sweeping reform pledge to fight on, which is why I spent my lunch hour listening to Senator Casey on a conference call hosted by Health Care for American Now (HCAN).
HCAN'S Pennsylvania director, Mark Stier, promised a stepped-up campaign focused on Philadelphia (where insurance behemoth Cigna is based). "We're going to escalate our action against the insurance companies in the next few weeks," said Stier. That's going to involve some civil disobedience, media stunts, and other tactics, he pledged.
For his part, Casey -- who has strongly supported a public option -- vowed to fight on as well. And despite the Finance Committee vote, he repeatedly voiced optimism that serious reform would pass. (Hear him hold out hope for the public option here.)
"We're going to continue to fight on these issues," Casey later pledged. "And you know what? We might have to fight people in our own party. And I'm fully willing to do that." Even so, he said, there was at least consensus among Democrats that something had to pass this year.
That may not be exactly reassuring. Democrats anxious to pass something are more likely to pass anything -- even if it falls well short of solving the problem.
And Casey seemed to concede the fight for a "single-payer" plan -- in which private insurers would be bypassed entirely with the creation of a Medicare-type system for all. Casey argued that -- for all the GOP's intransigence, lots of progress had been made on the current bill ... and starting over on a more sweeping bill would delay reform until 2010. (Hear his take on the prospects for single-payer here.)
Single-payer backers aren't going to like hearing that. Most of the ones I know, actually, are convinced that Washington will pass a half-assed plan that will need to be fixed in a few years anyway. So why not wait another year?
Then again, Casey has a point. AFter all, 2010 will be election season. And if you thought you saw some chickenshit Democrats this year ...