Dana Milbank of the Washington Post places the blame for the Super Committee's failure squarely on Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl:
So when the Arizonan was named as one of six Republicans on the debt supercommittee, Democrats feared the worst — and they got what they feared. It exaggerates little to say that Kyl thwarted agreement almost singlehandedly. While some Republicans on the panel — notably Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton — were, with House Speaker John Boehner’s blessing, prepared to strike a deal, Kyl rallied resistance with his usual table-pounding tirades.
The tragedy here is that Kyl, who has announced his retirement at the end of his term, could have risen above political pressures to strike an agreement to right the nation’s finances for a generation. Boehner’s House Republicans, aware that voters will hold them to account for inaction, were willing to deal. But Kyl’s Senate Republicans, hoping voters will evict the Democratic majority in the Senate, had no such incentive.
“Walking napalm” is how one Democratic aide involved in the supercommittee described Kyl this week. And if the senator makes some mistakes as he burns down the village — well, that’s just a cost of doing business. Earlier this year, when Kyl was leading an effort to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, he claimed on the Senate floor that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” The actual number is 3 percent. An aide to Kyl explained: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”
As Kyl leaves the Senate, he will be remembered as a lawmaker who intended to be not factual but destructive.