While Obama was busy capitulating to the right wing mobs and wily political Republicans in congress, Democrats proved to be not as easy to intimidate and Democrats, especially in congress, have abandoned him and his attempt at surrender on the public option, and in a very public way.
Ever since Obama started greasing the skids for his capitulation on the public option, something that outraged almost everyone on the side of healthcare reform, Democrats have been speaking out and letting him know this isn’t his game anymore.
Now he is trying to undo the damage by claiming his position never changed and he supports the public option.
But no one ever questioned whether he supported it. Only whether he had the backbone to fight for it and that question has been answered.
It will be Congress and not Obama that will be the key to healthcare reform.
When Obama attempted to minimize the importance of the public option as preparation capitualating, Howard Dean, DNC chairman and former governor of Vermont and a physician, came out on CBS’ Early Show and said the public option was “indispensable”.
Two Democratic congressmen, Anthony Weiner of New York and Eddie Bernice-Johnson of Texas immediately reacted to Obama’s shift and said the Democratic congress will not pass a bill that doesn’t contain the public option. And Nancy Pelosi. who presides over the House, has called it the centerpiece of the reform bill, all of which completely undercut Obama’s attempts at capitulating to the right and in the process made it clear this has been taken out of Obama’s hands.
Obama, who has a long history of reneging on promises and capitulating to political pressure as I pointed out in the April article, miscalculated badly this time. He has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. He has now alienated those against healthcare reform and those who are its most ardent supporters. He has hung himself out to dry by waving the white flag and found the only one trying to surrender was himself.
His mishandling of the entire process has been evident from the beginning. He was giving nothing but empty and ineffective speeches that contained no details, or direction, he never had a plan, never gave direction to congress, never drew a line in the sand or threw down markers. He seemed to be more Billy Mays than president, a pitch man with no specifics, nothing definitive, and when the Republicans got tough he was ready to give up the centerpeice to healthcare reform. It hasnt been a pretty sight.
But the one who has paid the biggest price is Obama himself who has made himself virtually irrelevant. He has been in essence abandoned by his own party which has repudiated him on his efforts to drop the public option.
Even the Congressional Black Caucus has abandoned him. Barbara Lee, head of the caucus said she found Obama’s statements of capitulation “troubling” and said that the Caucus does not believe there can be health care reform without the public option.
Obama is now trying to undo the damage by reversing himself again, saying he supports the public option and has sent Kathy Siebelus and Robert Gibbs out to face the heat, trying to claim nothing has changed and there was no shift in policy. And in Bush-like fashion he is comically trying to blame the media — that they didnt understand what he was saying and turned into something he never meant. Wall Street apparently didnt understand either since stocks in healthcare insurance companies surged on Monday.
But at this point it doesn’t matter. The Democrats have made it clear Obama is now virtually irrelevant except for his signature on the bill, and whatever else they may say publicly, the healthcare bill is their call not his. And a public option will be part of it.
The Democrats are now saying that they are going to do what Obama should have made clear from the beginning — that they will ram the bill through with or without Republican support. The attempts at bi-partisanship was perhaps the most ill concieved part of Obama’s approach and gave the Republicans the opening they needed to cause trouble and they did.
But the Democratic congress is now letting it be known that the bill will go as they see fit . And the sooner that message is made clear, the sooner the right wing lunatics and neo-fascists who show up at these meetings to boo and rattle their cages will know they are wasting their breath. .And while they succeeded momentarily in intimidaing Obama, they know now that it;s going to do them no good with the congress.
Harry Truman once said that if you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Obama has shown he can’t stand the heat and there are a lot of Democrats today who are thinking it might have been a lot better had they had Hillary Clinton in the kitchen.
What do you think? Would Hillary Clinton have been a better candidate?