Obama today:

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much ...


... but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.


No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.

And so I'm thinking to myself, "Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist ..."

No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I'm saying is we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.

I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, "This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."

And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.

It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

I think all that's true. But you know what else? Turns out it's a winning strategy for Republicans. The health care bill is nationally unpopular and legislatively dying (at best). Their prospects in November have improved.

Yes, Republicans have left themselves with little ability to compromise, but it's not in their interest to compromise. And that Republicans would demonize the policy and misrepresent Obama was entirely predictable. Maybe they earnestly disagree with the proposals, or maybe they're just self-interested and cynical. It doesn't really matter - they're not going to vote for health care reform. Whether they'll compromise is not unknown. They won't.

And yes, we need to change how Washington works. Without question, our political discourse needs to communicate to voters with honesty and respect. 

But we also need to provide health care to uninsured Americans. So in the end, while it's satisfying for our president to be take the high ground in the argument about process, it's not going to pass health care. 

For that, you actually have to win.



Tags: Barack Obama, health care reform (all tags)



True but

maybe just maybe President Obama learned his lesson during his first year.  And now is ready to take the fight to the Republicans, so he can get some of his actions items passed into law.

Just a thought.

by srliberalguy 2010-01-30 01:40AM | 0 recs
RE: True but

That's what I thought after Obama a href="" made all kinds of concessions to Republicans on the stimulus bill and then got no Republican votes in the House. But apparently he didn't learn the lesson well enough at that time.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-30 07:41AM | 1 recs
RE: True but

He apparently was miffed he got zero votes in the House. Politico described it as thin skinned, but whatever. It seemed he had learned a lesson - apparently not.


by bay of arizona 2010-01-30 07:41PM | 0 recs
RE: For someone

who thought one of my sentences was strange, you just strung together two real doozies.

by QTG 2010-01-30 08:12PM | 0 recs

As Sam Seder said on MyDD blog talk radio: yes, 6 months ago we'd be ready to believe that.

by Josh Orton 2010-01-30 03:40AM | 0 recs
Demonizing Obama

 I hear about the Republicans' obstructionism, ridiculous accusations, and demonization of Obama when I watch Comedy Central, or way back before the Kill-Billers killed HCR, I saw it in the hearings. But my reaction to Josh's reaction to the Presidents words is simply:


because the ultimate responsibility for that particular failure falls upon those who I have for so long considered to be the people I shared a common set of beliefs and values. Among those values, practicality and pragmatism, realism and maturity. It turns out that I'm much more lonely than I thought. Without the (LAUGHTER), I'd have nothing to console me but my useless tears.

by QTG 2010-01-30 06:42AM | 1 recs
RE: Demonizing Obama

You amaze me. Obama has sat back and let the health care reform debacle play out in Congress, with little leadership on his part. In the State of the Union he tells them not to walk away but gives little direction about how they're supposed to move forward. Then his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, gives an interview saying the White House is moving health care reform to the back burner for a while so they can focus on other things.

But of course, if health care reform doesn't pass, immature progressive bloggers are to blame for not having the president's back, or clapping louder, or whatever we were supposed to be doing.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-30 07:44AM | 1 recs
RE: Demonizing Obama

What, Obama is supposed to tell Congress how to do their job? WTF are the other 310 Democrats elected to DC doing?

by vecky 2010-01-30 12:14PM | 1 recs

Great Presidents Lead.

by srliberalguy 2010-01-30 01:46PM | 0 recs
Great Presidents Lead

Obama said " Yes We Can" not "Yes I Can" .

I have found his leadership extraordinary. Almost singlehandedly, he has taken the mighty hammers of reason and justice and destroyed a host of Republican strongholds, memes, and beltway conventional wisdom hung around the necks of Democrats since Jimmy Carter singlehandedly emasculated the Democratic Party in the name of good will.

It has served to point out to us, his base, the infiltration of corporate money into our party which has forced borderline Democrats like Nelson, Conrad, Landrieu, Lieberman and others to show the world who's paid for their allegiance.

I think we know what to do.

by dembluestates 2010-01-30 03:07PM | 2 recs
And you amaze me!

 You wrote a powerful defense of passing the Bill on Dec 27, 2009. Substantively and Politically, you made a strong case for passing the Senate Bill, if that were to come out of a Conference Committee. The Progressives' hissy fits frightened the Democratic Legislators and accomplished the goal of the Bill-KIllers. I still agree with your X-Mas argument, do you?

by QTG 2010-01-30 08:18AM | 1 recs
RE: And you amaze me!

I am not for passing the Senate bill unchanged. Right now the House doesn't have the votes to do that anyway. There are only two realistic paths forward, and both involve the Senate using the reconciliation process. One would be for the Senate to pass a bill using reconciliation to incorporate the fixes that would have come out of the conference negotiations. Then the House would pass the Senate bill and the fixes simultaneously.

The other way would be for the Senate to pass a more limited bill using the reconciliation process: say, more money for primary care centers, Medicare buy-in for age 50-64, and Medicaid expansion. Then the House would pass that. Insurance reforms would have to go in a separate bill, which would need 60 votes in the Senate.

Either way, the ball is in the Senate's court, and Obama should be giving them clear direction. But instead, Rahm is telling them it's ok to put off health care reform for a few months. And ludicrously, you blame progressive bloggers for this--as if Democratic senators have ever listened to any of our concerns.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-30 09:34AM | 2 recs
RE: And you amaze me!

 Actually, by blaming the kill-billers whom you call "Progressive bloggers", I'm showing them the respect they think they deserve. Their anti-Obama crusade might actually have had some impact on turnout in MA, for example, although I don't assert it. I believe their childish behavior gives progressives the bad image of kids holding their breath, and that they'd look better to the non-politically obssessed voters in the middle by folloeing the adult example of the President.

The fact of HCR failure is obvious, and I never advocated for it. Others have, quite vehemently, and now claim to have no responsibility? More childish behavior. Kill billers took a risk, got what they asked for, and now it's my responsibility to make sure that fact doesn't get conveniently forgotten.

by QTG 2010-01-30 10:04AM | 1 recs
RE: And you amaze me!

Their anti-Obama crusade might actually have had some impact on turnout in MA, for example, although I don't assert it


Very strange sentence. Did you read any post-MA polling?

by bay of arizona 2010-01-30 07:44PM | 0 recs
RE: Did you read any post-MA polling?

Yes, but I didn't conduct any.

by QTG 2010-01-30 08:05PM | 0 recs
I wouldn't bother if I were you

This guy has no credibility. After being the biggest cheerleader for the Baucus debacle, he now blames progressives for the healthcare debacle.

by tarheel74 2010-01-30 11:36PM | 0 recs
In Fact

Whether they'll compromise is not unknown. They won't.

the prospects for compromise with the Taliban are better than they are with the Republicans, who, unlike the Taliban, want to destroy Obama's Presidency and represent the real long-term threat to our democracy.

The presence of Frank Luntz at the front table yesterday was telling.  We have a collection of people masquerading as a serious political party, totally preoccupied not with public service but with winning messaging wars and polluting our discourse with lies and demagoguery.


by Bob H 2010-01-30 09:50AM | 0 recs
A most cogent and moving set of arguments.
A most cogent and moving set of arguments indeed! And there is virtually no one who would deny the genius and extraordinary rhetoric of President Obama. But from the outset, what those of us who strongly supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 feared most about a President Obama has come to pass. He was simply too inexperienced nationally, and much too naive about the real objectives of GOP opposition. Bill and Hillary have been for so many decades veritable GOP punching bags that they well knew what would be thrown at a Hillary presidency, particularly as pertaining to health care reform. Never permit your enemy to define you. It is a war we are fighting with our opposition, the enemy every bit as lethal as the worst of Nazi SS troopers. But just as effective as those Nazi SS troopers were on a bankrupt German people in the afermath of World War I, so too are the GOP guerrillas in fighting every conceivable national social reform. FDR wasted no time on taking office in March 1933--drastic measures were called for, and he didn't give time to any set of "tea baggers" to tell the nation that a bank holiday on their money was a terrible thing. No, FDR fought the fires of Depression with fires of his own--he had the 1932 mandate to back him up. President Obama was mandated to create big change in 2008. There was no necessity to confer with the defeated opposition. A national health care bill, as well as a national recovery bill, should have been steamrolled through the Congress, even though there was no sixtieth Senate vote at the time. Reconciliation was perfectly fine; and if not, then by God, change the crazy filibuster rule. And he need not have wasted one moment while the GOP and the insurance lobby teamed to become a false "We the people are fighting you" power. President Obama in early 2009 had the bully pulpit--define those potential enemies first, and hit them hard by both words and deeds, and make certain that those hits leave them fatal. It was a Civil War the United States was undergoing, like the Depression battles of 1933, and every bit as politically bloody as was the American Civil War itself. We will never know now, but I believe that President Hillary Clinton, long ravaged with political scars, would have permitted the GOP no slack. She would have been an Iron Lady, and steeled herself from every shot from across the aisle. I am now fifty-six, and I am among the forty million Americans without health care. I do not expect to have it in my lifetime. Even if I ever suffer a stroke or should become terminally ill, so long as I have yet my mental faculties, I shall think twice before ever considering any treatment that can leave any of those close to me saddled with a debt they can never hope to pay for. Yet our banking institutions, freely given trillions of taxpayer dollars by both Presidents George Walker Bush and Obama, so that they might remain solvent, never blanch when torturing taxpayers to make good on their credit card debt with usurious 39% fees. Under such circuimstances, an FDR in office in 2009 would have surely stated: "The banks will have their debt forgiven by taxpayers only if taxpayers are also forgiven at least part of their debt by bankers." That would have made perfect sense to all but usurious bankers, and it wouldn't have mattered what they thought. There would have been no taxpayer giveaway money until the bankers surrendered. And in early 2009 the bankers, still desperate for government aid, would have had no other choice. America by the close of 2008 was on the way out. Too many years of Ronald Reagan-inspired GOP absolute rule 2001-2007, had all but wrecked the system. And even when the Democrats had the Congress after 2007, without a President's signature on bills enacted to create national recovery, such a Congress would have been impotent. To the brilliant and charismatic President Obama was given every gift--from a citizens' mandate in November 2008 to a world imprimatur by way of the Nobel Peace Prize in the autumn of 2009. Still, President Obama, perhaps heady with the love all around him, allowed himself to be lulled into inaction by those GOP stealthy veritable Nazi SS "tea-baggers." Now, even with huge majorities in the Congress, National Health Care in the United States is a dream only once more, killed by of all people, the citizens of Massachusetts whose forty-seven year Senator Ted Kennedy made National Health Care the cornerstone of his political career. Those of us now forever uninsured will never forgive the disloyalty of those Massachusetts citizens, blessed in their own state to have such health care. Someday, a higher power may inflict on those Massachusetts citizens the horror of also being forever without health care that they now have inflicted upon others. But what is certain is the fact that Massachusetts, once regarded as the most enlightened of states--the only not to support President Richard Nixon's reelection in 1972--has become a laughable jackass state, as easily manipulated as the worst of Southern racist states of the 1950's and 1960's. Oddly enough, it took the national mourning over the assassination of JFK and the political resolve of President Lyndon Johnson, once "The Master of the Senate," to create Medicaire. But like his mentor FDR, LBJ wasted no time. Truly strange is the fact that the GOP led "tea-baggers" argue for the protection of their Medicaire and Social Security, when both programs were openly reviled by the GOP. Today, GOP voters are the first at the trough to collect their Social Security checks and enjoy their Medicaire benefits. Now, there would have been a condign cure! Proclaim no known "tea-bagger" any longer eligible for either program! But that would have required an Iron President. Surely an FDR or an LBJ. And I believe that Hillary Clinton would have shared that great appelation had she come to the Presidency as well.  As it is now, the GOP "tea-baggers" are the ultimate Pyrrhic victors.  Flushed with their political triumph, like their opposition counterparts in the Soviet Union twenty years ago, they cannot understand that such a bulwark against absolutely necessary change only guarantees the inevitable extinction of the nation itself.
by lambros 2010-01-30 10:32AM | 0 recs
in his own words

For those still clinging to the notion that Obama is more liberal than Bill Clinton, he just refuted you, substantively, on health care, energy and the budget.

I agree with you on strategy, that was one part of why Obama was not my choice in the primaries. But as dark as things seem now I'm not prepared to count Obama out. That Q&A showed Obama (and the Republicans) in a better light. All Obama has to do is convince a handful of Republican Senators to be flexible, and if this kind of interaction changes the dynamics of their caucus then he has opened that opportunity.


by tib 2010-01-30 11:52AM | 0 recs
RE: in his own words

The only thing that will convince the handful of GOP senators to be flexible are the voters in their states. That is the reason the most flexible prospects are from Blue states - Maine and now MA respectively.

by vecky 2010-01-30 12:23PM | 1 recs
RE: in his own words

I really never EVER heard anybody (outside of DU) claim they thought Obama would be more liberal than Clinton.


I supported him because he could win...something I though Clinton couldn't do.


We're making substantive, if incremental change...that's what I expected.

by lojasmo 2010-01-30 12:33PM | 2 recs
Model and Sim

My cynic side has struck again. It occurred to me watching the Keith O / Rachel / Matthews 2 hour special on the president's smack down of the Repubs that maybe, just maybe, the following happened:

At the start of the term in 2009, the Repubs all got together and modeled what would happen given various scenarios and Republican actions. You know, like Nate Silver running all these models on his fivethirtyeight site. Well, every time they run the model, the tactic that shows them getting the most pay back in 2010 is to simply obstruct at every turn.

And this notion of Hatch declaring war if the Dems use reconciliation for HCR when Hatch was a major practitioner of reconciliation during Bush's reign -- well, it will be interesting to see if the Dems have the spine to press forward. 

by Bob Miller 2010-01-30 12:18PM | 0 recs

…it's in neither parties interest to compromise, but the weird thing is that last year Democrats did so when it was completely unnecesary and lost control of the healthcare debate. Last year, Republican obstructionism was pretty much symbolic—they just didn't have the votes—but this year it's different, which is why it was good for Obama to get out front of everything and call them on hyperbole and demonization. It's the kind of messaging that's especially necessary when the electorate wants (or better, needs) results. I'm not sure it can save the current healthcare reform bills, though, because running on questionable plans will not score Democrats any points. Isn't that the lesson of Scott Brown?

by tru blu 2010-01-31 11:59AM | 0 recs


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