The Lost Narrative
by Charles Lemos, Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 12:11:23 PM EST
Edward Luce of the Financial Times has a video interview with John Podesta, the former Chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration and founder of the DC think tank Center for American Progress who also served as the transition chief for the Obama White House, that is a must listen out this morning. It is the second time in a week that Podesta has taken to the FT to make a cogent, fair and stinging rebuke of the Obama White House.
In the written commentary that accompanies the video interview, Podesta is quoted as saying that the White House has "lost the narrative." Podesta goes on to argue that the White House needs to make more and better use of an All-Star Cabinet in order to regain it. The interview covers three main topics: the current difficult moment for the Obama White House, the prospects for passing a health care reform bill and the deepening crisis in American politics.
Since October, I have been asking one question: where's the vision? Where does Barack Obama want to take the country? While the President has had moments of brilliance such as his recent question time session with the House Republican caucus, these moments have been few and far between. In between these rarified appearances by the President, we have seen the political debate increasingly framed by the GOP in and out of government. Rather being seen as setting the agenda, the Administration is now largely seen as being on the defensive responding not just to Rep. John Boehner or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell but also to Sarah Palin and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
On the healthcare reform package, Podesta offered this assessment:
First, try to enact the whole thing by using the budget reconciliation process, which would enable it to pass with 51 votes. The Democrats lost their controlling 60-seat super-majority last month in a election defeat in Massachusetts.
The second would be to pass a watered down bill with Republican support. The third would be to abandon the attempt, as Mr Clinton did in 1993.
Podesta also painted a fairly bleak view of the overall health of US politics. “It sucks,” he noted point blankly. Highlighting the strategy of obstructionism über alles by Republican lawmakers, he said: “I think the president is trying to re-engage with Republicans, but, quite frankly, he’s not dealing with the party of [Abraham] Lincoln. He’s dealing with the party of [Sarah] Palin.” And the result has been an increasingly despondent base of the Democratic party as well as a frustrated country overall.