After his brilliant beginning, the president suddenly looks weak and unreliable. [Ed. note: don’t you read your own magazine, dude? “Suddenly,” my a$$.] That will be the common interpretation around Washington of the president’s abrupt retreat on substantive heathcare reform. Give Barack Obama a hard shove, they will say, rough him up a bit and he folds. A few weeks back, the president was touting a “public option” health plan as an essential element in reform. Now he says, take it or leave it. Whatever Congress does, he’s okay with that.
The White House quickly added confusion to the outrage by insisting the president didn’t really say anything new. He’s just being flexible. He still wants what most Democrats want–a government plan that gives people a real escape from the profit-driven clutches of the insurance companies. But serious power players will not be fooled by the nimble spinners. Obama choked. He raised the white flag, even before the fight got underway in Congress.
(Via the awesome vastness and leftyness of vastleft at Corrente.) In the past few days since this article was published, the confusion has only grown about where the White House is. (One thing is for sure: they thought they put a stake through Howard Dean’s heart, but he lives! He lives!) Well, suxxorz: I love to say I told you so, don’t I? Oh well: if we can’t have meaningful health care reform this year, can we at least get a pony?
Here’s a deep thought that’s been troubling me lately: one major political party (my party, that is) believes in government, and works to get government right (mostly). The other major political party believes in politics, and really cares about getting the politics right. It strikes me as unsustainable and downright dangerous for government and politics to be separate and antagonistic goals. The Republicans followed George W. Bush off the cliff in the 2000s because he was great at politics, but not so great at actually running a government, and government running well still matters to a lot of people. The Democrats look to me to be making the parallel opposite mistake, in that their inability to care about doing politics well may mean that they won’t have their hands on the levers of government for very much longer.