That muffled sound you hear are the Republicans with their hands over their mouths trying to keep people from hearing them laugh as the Democrats self destruct over healthcare reform.
Reality is setting in that Harry Reid is facing two choices. Pass a senate bill containing a public option with budget reconciliation or risk having the Democrats and Obama be a laughing stock politically who will see much of their Democratic support disappear and be portrayed as weak and incompetent by Republicans. A health care bill with no public option will certainly alienate most of their base and make Obama and Senate Democrats a laughing stock no matter what way Obama tries to spin it.
With large majorities in both the House and Senate and, according to the latest poll with 59% of Americans saying they want a public option, if the Democrats cant deliver they might be finished in the next election and so will Obama. And no amount of snake oil that Obama tries to use, no amount of sugar coated words or deception, will cover up a massive and humiliating defeat.
Obama came out after a meeting with the Democratic caucus and said that while some agreement had been reached there was work that needs to be done. That sounds like not all of the Senators are on board with a compromise that both drops the Medicare buy in and drops a public option.
If the Democrats try and sell a heatlh care bill that has neither, the Democrats will look weak and Obama who has already seen his approval ratings plummet will be seen as hopelessly ineffective. And if he tries to portray a health care bill without a public option as a victory he will in all probability, become a national joke both with Democrats and Republicans.
Unlike the super salesman the Democrats thought they were getting with Obama, he has been a disaster on health care, weak in the face of Republican attacks, some so brazen that, in the case of Senator Jim DeMint, they even admitted that opposing healthcare reform was a political act to destroy Obama. Obama took it lying down. Obama has let opponents of the public option turn the tables on him in a way an experienced politician fighting for a cause never would.
Joe Lieberman for example, is clearly lying when he says he opposes the public option because it will add to the deficit. The CBO said exactly the opposite, that it will reduce the defiict and Lieberman has never produced a single fact to back up that he is right and the CBO wrong. But Obama is clearly letting him get away with it because he just doesnt have the gumption to fight. And now Obama looks like he wants to pass anything, just to be able to declare victory.
The Democrats have enough votes to pass a reform bill with a public option using budget reconciliation the way the Republicans did 3 times in passing Bush’s tax cuts to get around a filibuster. If they cant deliver and ram it through, if they are timid and weak and wont use budget reconciliation the way the Republicans did to ram their legislation through, the next election cycle could end up finding the Democrats as a party, in dire need of health care themselves.