Obama's Failure of Leadership

The White House healthcare proposals, the attempt to bridge the gap between the House and Senate versions, did not include a public option. On this omission, Ezra Klein writes in the Washington Post that this demonstrates "a complete and utter failure of White House leadership."

They need to give this effort their support, or they need to kill it by publicly stating their opposition. But they can't simply wait for someone else to make the decision for them, which has been their strategy until now.

If the White House decides that reviving the public option is a good idea, there's reason to believe the Senate would follow them on that. It would make some sense, after all: The public option is popular, its death was partly the product of industry pressure, and the sudden spate of high-profile rate increases offers a nice rhetorical pivot for anyone who wants to argue that individuals should be able to choose an insurer who's not a profit-hungry beast. Plus, Democrats need an excited base going into the 2010 election, and this may be the only way to get it.

While the death of the public option may have partly been a result of industry pressure, the onus lies squarely with the White House. After all, where does the buck stop? Who is willing or unwilling to fight the powers that be? Some fights are worth having but we have a President and a Chief of Staff who would rather cut a deal than fight the good (and hard) fight. It has been a complete and utter failure of White House leadership.

To be sure the White House has paid lip service to the idea of a public option now and again most recently earlier this week when they trotted out HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to suggest that if the Senate wanted to push for a public option via the reconciliation process then Majority Leader Harry Reid was free to do so. Such a suggestion is a passing of the buck. Corralling 51 votes on this was always going to be arduous task but nonetheless 23 Senators had stepped forward until Senator Jay Rockefeller rained on the parade.

The answer has always been Medicare for All, it is a proven single payer system that works but it's clear that the White House was opposed to this idea from the start. Earlier this month on his Journal program on PBS, Bill Moyers interviewed Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Congressional Fellow with Physicians for National Health Program.

BILL MOYERS: Last May, before the Senate hearings at Max Baucus-- Senator Max Baucus were conducted, it seemed like there might be a momentum behind this single payer Medicare for all movement. What happened?

DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: They actually did start inviting us in to have a seat at the table. Senator Kennedy's committee contacted us. And I was the first person to testify in the Health Education and Labor and Pension Committee hearing. I sat next to the CEO of Aetna, which was a very interesting experience. And then when we went over to the House and spoke to the leadership there, they said, "We want your voice to be heard here." And we testified there. And so we actually thought we were starting to get our foot in the door. And then we had some amendments that were introduced that were good amendments. They would have substituted a national single payer system for the legislation that was going through, so we were really pushing on that. And then we saw that all of that fell apart.

BILL MOYERS: And then?

DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: Well, what we learned through this process is there was a lot of control coming from the White House. And they did not- they wanted to pass something. They were putting everything off on passing something in health care reform. And they were concerned that if we let the single payer voice in, or if it was associated in any way with a legislation, that it would hurt their ability to pass that legislation. So they kind of put the kibosh on it.

BILL MOYERS: The White House.

DR. MARGARET FLOWERS: Yes, it really came down from the top. We tried to bring our viewpoint in this summer. We actually brought doctors and nurses in. That was a lot of what I was doing, to meet with staffers and meet with legislators and educate them about health policy, what makes good sense from a health standpoint, not an, you know, special interest standpoint. But when we tried to reach the White House and ask to be included there, we requested meetings with the president on numerous occasions. And they just said no.

Juxtaposed against this Obama obstructionism are the efforts and the real leadership of Senator Kristen Gillibrand who was one of the four prime movers of this most recent effort to resuscitate the public option. In fact, Senator Gillibrand hit the nail of head recently in a meeting with the Young Manhattan Democrats:

After an impassioned speech and a few questions, it was my turn to stick myself in there and see if she could speak to the issue that I cared most about: fixing our wasteful, inefficient and immoral health care system. The question I asked, though not verbatim, went something like this:
Senator Gillibrand, I’d first like to thank you the recent letter you signed and sent to Harry Reid demanding that we use reconciliation to bring back the public option and score a big victory for the American people. [Applause] As for going forward on health care reform in the near future, what are our chances that we will get the public option, the government run alternative that will provide real competition to the exploitative, wasteful, and inefficient health care corporate cartel that is gauging American workers and holding this nation back from progress? [Applause]
Okay, maybe I didn’t pull a Keith Olbermann and use the word “cartel,” but I did say pretty much everything else. At this point, although I was very impressed with what Gillibrand had been saying prior to my question, I was expecting the same old politician/focus-group-tested-response, like:
Great Question. We are currently working very hard to bring back the public option, and we will all do our best. We need to remember that the most important thing is not the specifics, but that we have some competition, not necessarily in the form of a government plan.
But she didn’t say that. Not even close. What she said actually greatly exceeded my expectations, slapping a big smile on my face and unleashing a wave of applause from the crowd. She began by saying that the public option will be hard to enact through reconciliation – a parliamentary procedure that only requires fifty-one votes instead of sixty – given that reconciliation is strictly a budgetary procedure and is thus supposed to be used only for budgetary issues. Albeit “budgetary issues” is vague, the idea here is that reconciliation is supposed to be used only when the budget has changed and the Congress must adjust existing programs to fit the new budget.

With this in mind, Gillibrand sought to find a way around this, and stumbled on something that progressives have been saying all year long. Instead of enacting a brand new “public option” program, why don’t we instead adjust the current public program already in existence – Medicare – to our current budget, i.e., expand Medicare for everyone? If we did this, it could be done completely through reconciliation.

This pronouncement sent me throwing victory fist pumps through the air like Ari Gold. Unbeknownst to most on the right, we already live in a country that has “socialized medicine”: it’s called Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration. And unlike the health care that we all have, these programs – although they have problems in their own right – are vastly more popular, more efficient, and a lot cheaper than private insurance.

So the takeaway: Gillibrand was asked about the public option, and responded with Medicare for all.

It's time to take a stand. Medicare for all. Anything less is unacceptable from both an economic point of view or from a moral stance.

Tags: Obama Administration, Public Option, Single Payer Systems, Dr. Margaret Flowers, US Healthcare Reform, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (all tags)



Not Obama's Fault

I supported Clinton in the primary and I am not a big Obama fanboy.  I never drank the cool aid on Mr. Fresh Face No Experience and two autobiographies.

However, this is not his fault.  There is just not support for the tax and budget increases that insuring an extra 30 million people will cost. Period.

If I blame Obama for anything, it is not recognizing this fact, pivoting, and moving on the way Clinton did in '94.  But I really didn't expect any less from somebody with zero executive experience.  Not even a lemon aide stand.

by dMarx 2010-02-23 06:09PM | 0 recs
RE: Not Obama's Fault

One quick point, there is more to this puzzle than covering the uninsured. The point is that we are spending 17 percent of GDP on healthcare and this is expected to rise to 21 percent of GDP by 2020.

That's an unsustainable trend with dire implications not just for the health of Americans but ultimately for the health of the nation. Our broken healthcare system is fast becoming a national security issue if hasn't already.

by Charles Lemos 2010-02-23 10:20PM | 0 recs
RE: Not Obama's Fault

I agree and then some, I think the growth of entitlements in general is a security issue. 

But I don't think that anybody believes that you can insure 30 million more people AND lower costs at the same time.

Right now, people want jobs. When you can't pay your mortgage or buy groceries, nobody cares about health care reform.

by dMarx 2010-02-24 07:27PM | 0 recs
RE: Not Obama's Fault

Hillary Clinton would have done the same thing and did not have any more executive experience.  Obama should have purged the Clintons and their supporters from the party, if he was serious(he isn't).  

There are six different international finance scandals connected to the Clintons.  There is the bribery scandal with Mark Rich.  She tellingly got the endorsement of Henry Kissinger.  She moved to New York, where she never lived, to run for Senate, where she clearly intended it as a stepping stone to a Presidential run in the future.  Her appointment as Secretary of State was a disgrace, as where most of his appointments.  

Her husband committed numerous, egregious war crimes in his Presidency.  The Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan killed thousands, as did his PR operation in Somolia.  He decisively backed the brutal Turkish assault on the Kurds, and he referred to Indonesian dictator Suharto(who committed the worst slaughter relative to population since the Holocaust(East Timor) and a separate Rawanda-style atrocity(his coup)).  The sanctions on Iraq, which he strongly imposed, killed 100s of thousands, caused three different distinguished diplomats to refer to them as genocidal and two of them to resign in protest.  His response to the Bosnia atrocity was the effective equivalent of seeing someone punch someone else, and respond by emptying an M16 into both of them, except the atrocities accelerated after the bombing.  He ignored Rwanda, the Congo, Sri Lanka, Darfur and other areas while he just had to stop genocide in Eastern Europe.  Nobody in the world wants to see this.  

The Clinton healthcare plan, like today's, basically a give away to corporations, further socializing cost and risk in the healthcare industry and further privatizing profit and quality care.  


p.s. You can insure everybody at lower costs, there is only one way to do both.  Every industrial country has a public insurance plan that is universal.  Cost is effectively privatized, with a progressive tax, and risk, profit and quality is socialized.  The private insurance industry for low risk people that don't get sick is driving costs way through the roof, as is our national healthcare system for the uninsured-The Emergency Room.  

Single-Payer Healthcare.  

by The Weekly Glass 2010-02-24 07:57PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama's Failure of Leadership
Public Option Hot Potato Continues: Gibbs Tries to Kill PO Push, Blaming Ten Unnamed Senators

The game of kill the public option hot potato continues, and, along with President Obama’s cowardly “leadership” on the matter, it is on full display today. During today’s White House press conference, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President did not include the public option because it does not have enough of the majority’s votes. . . or something like that (via Huffington Post):

Of course, the public option did have a majority of votes only a few weeks ago. That is according to public whip counts and statements from senators like Tom Harkin (D-IA). So, the reason it probably does not have the votes is because Obama refuses to push for it — and, more importantly, has surrogates like Robert Gibbs go out to try to suppress efforts to round up the votes.

by jeopardy 2010-02-23 06:24PM | 1 recs

I have never bought into the argument of "the votes aren't there" as an excuse for people not advocating for something.  The whole reason the votes get there, sooner or later, is that enough people advocate.  Heck, if the votes were already there, there would be no need for any of us to advocate.

But whether "the votes are there" is definitely a crucial consideration when we decide whether we're going to blame a given politician for something not happening.  If there's no scenario in which a robust PO passes this Congress, it would be idiotic for us to vow primaries against every Democrat who didn't go to the mat for it.  In this case, we're going to be fortunate if we get any health care bill at all at the end of the day.  Continuing to advocate for the public option, something I encourage everyone to do, shouldn't morph into another round of vowing bitter recriminations when it inevitably fails to happen.

I'm not going to go so far as to agree with Glenn Greenwald's theory that it's all being orchestrated in some back room, but people should be smart enough to recognize the basic pattern here.  You have something the base of the party wants, we get told all along that we can't have it, and then once it's clear that we won't get it some random Democrat decides to score brownie points by mounting a high-profile campaign for the thing we're still not going to get.  Does anyone remember John Kerry's last-minute effort to filibuster the Alito nomination?  They do this all the time.

The originators of the latest public option petition were Senators Bennet and Gillibrand, both of whom face the prospect of difficult primaries from the left this year.  I'm not going to fault them for it, because I like it when legislators express support for the things I support, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get suckered into believing the public option is back on the table after all.  A number of Democrats see a free chance to curry favor with the base by claiming to support something that isn't going to happen, that's all there is to it.


by Steve M 2010-02-23 06:58PM | 4 recs
RE: Sigh

The public option was never on the table. The president paid lip service then, as he is doing now. But since the middle of last year the final goal was always a HCR bill designed on MA reform. The progressives got excited and the WH egged them on, but I learned from my sources last June that what we will get is something like this bill, with mandates to buy private insurance, fines and really very little cost control. So here we are. However like Ezra Klein said, by not showing leadership one way or another this WH is setting itself up for a lot of blame.

BTW just to add to this, remember the Volker rule that Obama spoke about because seemingly that was "a fight he was willing to have". Here now is the latest news from the administration about the same:

<blockquote>The Obama administration lowered expectations Tuesday for the "Volcker rule" to curb risky trading by banks, emphasizing "limits" rather than an outright ban, as Congress shied from the original proposal.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that it supports "mandatory limits" on banks' proprietary trading, in which they trade for their own accounts. The administration last month had called for an outright ban on such trading.</blockquote>

Once again, long on rhetoric but short on achievement/governance. When you are this spinless, when you lack the courage of conviction to stand behind your proposals, you are bound to end up looking weak and feckless and increasingly this WH is looking just that.

by tarheel74 2010-02-23 07:12PM | 0 recs
You're betting the farm HCR won't pass?

That's a mighty risky wager. We'll see 60 days from now.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 10:03PM | 0 recs
Sigh x2

Why is leadership equated with giving you what you want?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 07:05PM | 0 recs
RE: Sigh x2

I think the folks who are always defending Obama are guilty of an equally lame definition: leadership is whatever Obama happens to do.  Even if he lets someone else take the lead, well that's just the confidence of a true leader, don't you see!

But in this case, I think Charles is defining leadership by reference to what the President actually said he wanted.  If the WH position was "the choice and competition provisions in this bill are better than the PO," well fine then.  But if the position is "we really wanted a PO, but sadly the votes weren't there" then it's fair to say "you're the leader, you were supposed to get it done."

My broken-record complaint on this site is that the Obama apologists are always equating whatever Obama does with the outer boundaries of political possibility.  If he doesn't accomplish something, that's because it couldn't be accomplished.  If he doesn't try, that's because he couldn't have succeeded.  And if anyone believes otherwise, well then, how arrogant are they to think they have better political judgment than Barack Obama?

I think we can do a little better than that.  After all, if the public option was never possible, then it was pretty irresponsible of Obama to get everyone's hopes up by saying all those times that he supported it.  And if it was possible, then I think it's clear that he hardly went to the mat to get it done, which is what he's being faulted for.

Personally, I would have liked to see a much harder run at the PO.  Maybe it would have happened, maybe not, but I think it's important enough that it was worth trying.  The point I made above is that while I'm annoyed at the overall effort from the WH with regard to the public option, I'm not interested in convicting them a second time just because some random Democrats decided to get our hopes up within the last week.  At this point my complaint has been registered and I will be happy to settle for "a bill."

by Steve M 2010-02-23 07:21PM | 3 recs
RE: Sigh x2

I think in the greater scheme of things they can't make up their mind what the office of presidency is supposed to be about. I have seen arguments that suggest that president has no power, all the way to the president has no leadership role, which being just another way of absolving the WH from any responsibility of this current debacle. In the end, the party goes down in flames in November and this president cannot save that narrative unless he starts acting like a president, which means like a strong leader, rather than a waffler in charge of what is increasingly becoming a dysfunctional and fractious WH.

by tarheel74 2010-02-23 08:27PM | 0 recs
You make some very good points, but:

My point of argument is the conflation of: a) a legislation goal not being met and b) the accusation of poor leadership. You must admit that the two can be mutually exclusive. And I argue, in this instance, they are.

This is not an attempt to define Obama's abilities by what is possible, as some Obama supporters do. I confess to falling into such a trap at times. I'm not sure if there are 50 votes for a PO through reconciliation. Only Harry Reid knows. Right now, we have 23 signiatures, which is pretty far off.

Rather, in this instance, I am making the argument that there is another possible explanation for not including a public option in the present bill besides poor leadership. The minute another reason is presented, the connection between absence of a public option and poor leadership falls apart. Quite simply: what if Obama doesn't want to include a public option in the present bill?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 10:00PM | 1 recs
RE: You make some very good points, but:

It sounds like we are in agreement that there is no reason to be angry at Obama yet again for the lack of a public option in this particular bill.  I stand by the criticisms of his overall handling of the process, but at the end of the day if we get a bill, that's still an amazing accomplishment that will be remembered long after the particulars of the process are forgotten. 

At this stage of the process, after everything that's happened, if a bill somehow emerges from the ashes I'd consider that a great save by the White House and a great show of leadership, period.  At this point I will be grateful to see any bill passed at all.  Maybe the reason they call us progressives is because we progressively lower our expectations.

by Steve M 2010-02-24 12:00AM | 1 recs
I stand by the same criticisms.

But after all, that is easy to do. Even the WH admits they made missteps in the process.

The important things are not only victory here, which is crucial, but learning from those misstakes.

TPM writes: From Nearly Dead To Nearly Done: How The White House Refocused On Health Care To Finish It Off

I admit, there's no second place here. I'm curious to see how Thursday goes, and I am praying that we are nearly done as is suggested.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 01:41AM | 0 recs

Obama does not want to include a PO in the present bill.  The question is why.  It's clearly not because he thinks it's a bad idea - he has made numerous statements in support of it.  So the answer presumably is that he doesn't think it had enough political support.  But part of his job is to advocate for policies he thinks are good so that they gain political support - i.e leadership.  He has not really done very much to advocate for the PO.  If he had, maybe if would have failed or maybe it would have succeeeded, but he didn't really even try and anger/disappointment about that seems completely justified to me.

by JJE 2010-02-24 01:47AM | 1 recs
That said

I can understand the impulse to defend Obama when his critics are the likes of securities fraudster Jerome Armstrong and PUMAtard Tarheel47.

by JJE 2010-02-24 01:54AM | 0 recs
RE: Sigh x2

Beacase that's the mentality of the Blog Birchers. They still haven't gotten that pony, so Obama can't lead. The Democratic leadership isn't trying to out-Flying Monkey the Flying Monkeys. so they're wimps.

I'm not a liberal Democrat (although I wonder at times if that's where the country is headed) and in a way I'm glad beacause with freinds like the .com Left, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, ei al don't need enemies.

by spirowasright 2010-02-23 11:02PM | 1 recs
Have you ever listened to sports radio call in?

In my opinion, the liberal blogosphere, once a useful tool, has degenerated into sports call in radio. I should go find a team that is expected to win the championship, but is perceived as underperforming a quarter of the way through its season and generate a transcript from callers is.

Yes, for the blog birchers, this is a rare opportunity to kick Obama. This may be their last chance to get a cheap shot in on Obama on healthcare reform, because it looks like it's going to pass *knocks on wood*

TPM reports: From Nearly Dead To Nearly Done -- How The White House Refocused On Health Care To Finish It Off

Folks, if it does pass, this will be the single largest legislative democratic victory in 30 or 70 years, depending on how you count LBJ's Medicaid.Nothing is bigger since social security (which, by the way, was implemented peacemeal and FDR was branded a sell-out as a result, but that's just pesky history)

The public option was always a fatal abstraction for the blog birchers. If Obama supported it, they would have found something else to obsess over and justify their resentment. With politicians, it's easy to find fault. What is so suprising is that so many on our side keep focussed upon the hole and not the donut.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 11:36PM | 1 recs
RE: Have you ever listened to sports radio call in?

I agree that the liberal blogosphere bears a strong resemblence to sports talk radio., with Rahm, Geithner, the Educations secreatary, etc., the "fire the coach" or "trade the bum" targets.

The blogosphere was once a useful tool, but it seems to have become the preserve of the political version of coffe shop coaches.

by spirowasright 2010-02-24 12:18AM | 2 recs
Yes, the bogeymen are all there...

...who are usually pilloried on scant evidence*.

Perhaps it was because a nincompoop could blog that Bush is evil, that I find myself so surprised by the frightening level of stupidity displayed by the blog birch society. We're supposed to be the smart ones, right?

I saw a game at Gillette Stadium this fall, and the drunk guy behind me is yelling at the Patriots, who are having a weak game against the Dolphins: "WILDCAT! Run the WILDCAT!" Maybe they did need to run that formation on a particular play, but doesn't it remind you of "Fire teh Rahm!!!!!!"

Instead of analysis (which does exist, here and elsewhere), I (all too often) read temper tantrums, witch hunts, rushes to judgment, one dimensional thinking, poor strategy, and ahistorical amnesia. I read about axes to grind, logical fallacies, and selective usage of facts.For example, Paul Krugman is a hero one day when he is skewering Obama economic policy and burned at the stake when he supports this (yes, this) healthcare reform (I think he's just a tool all around, but that's a separate matter).

In reality, I agree that Obama just doesn't think a PO is really all that crucial to healthcare reform in the big picture. The blog birch society may not see past today, but if I know one thing for sure, it's that Obama does.

* My theory is that the witch hunts and obsessions (with the usual suspects you note) are actually means of those irrationally angry trying to protect Obama.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 01:20AM | 1 recs
of course

since you basically said in the other thread that the only anti-Obama information you will believe is an outright admission of guilt by Obama himself...

It is not too suprising that you think that anybody who doesn't think Obama is doing a good job is on a "which hunt"

by jeopardy 2010-02-26 02:16PM | 0 recs

I often didn't think he was doing a good job. Does that mean I'm witch hunting myself?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-26 04:45PM | 0 recs
RE: Funny

anybody who sees your posts knows that you have a knee-jerk reaction to defend him. That's fine, but at least be honest about it.


by jeopardy 2010-02-27 01:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Funny

anybody who sees your posts knows that you have a knee-jerk reaction to indict him. That's fine, but at least be honest about it.

So where does this leave us?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-27 04:02PM | 0 recs
RE: Funny

I was defending Obama and the Dems in diaries until mid-november. I changed my mind because of the evidence I saw of Obama messing up time after time.

That's very different than how you ignore evidence to keep your preconceived views.

by jeopardy 2010-02-27 04:16PM | 0 recs
So now all is lost?

Even if you did once have an unbiased view of Obama as you claim (I don't think I was here back then, so I don't know if I can confirm), all is lost now? Can Obama do anything right in your mind from this time on? Or do you believe the transgressions have been too great?

And what evidence am I "ignoring"? I keep asking you to tell me what the evidence is, but you won't. Is this about the "unnamed sources" in a single NY Times article? A timeline from Jane Hamsher? Please point to the evidence I am "ignoring"?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-27 05:23PM | 0 recs
RE: So now all is lost?

I certainly do think Obama can do a lot right from here on out. He's immensely talented.

But having having pretend like he hasn't been screwing up isn't going to do it.

An once again, I told you that I will gladly datail the evidence if I can get some sort of reason to think you will listen to any evidence that goes against Obama. You have made it pretty darn clear that you will reject anything short of an outright admission by Obama though.

by jeopardy 2010-02-28 03:02PM | 0 recs
on the job training

This is how it looks. If we are lucky, by his second term, Obama will be up for the job.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-23 07:15PM | 1 recs
RE: on the job training

There's a big IF there. But even if he does, historically by the second year of their second term all presidents become lame ducks. Unfortunately this president looks like a lame duck right now.

by tarheel74 2010-02-23 08:28PM | 0 recs
fact is

Obama has been devoid of leadership skills. He thinks if he just talks that throngs will bow at his feet. Time to stand up for something Mr. President....anything. Wont matter cuz in November there is going to be a slaughter at the polls as Americans have had it with congress...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-02-23 07:23PM | 1 recs
agree with you 100% Charles

It's been a year now, and I can't decide if Obama is incompetent or corrupt.  He obviously is doing a piss poor job on HCR.  Has he been bought off by big pharma and the other big players, or does he really have no idea about how to negotiate?  A depressing choice.  It's been a year, and I'm tired of hearing about 11th dimensional chess. 

by weinerdog43 2010-02-23 07:29PM | 0 recs
prety sad state of sausage

He strikes me as someone who compromised on enough things that the scales tipped, and he's basically got nothing left that he really believes he campaigned on to acheive the presidency. Its vague notions, names on the bill, "Healthcare Reform" with an acheivement for re-election the only substance of the matter that drives the completion-- leave the details to those aligned with the powers lobbying for what actually is the substance of the legislation.


by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-23 10:16PM | 0 recs
RE: agree with you 100% Charles

Neither incompetent nor corrupt, at least not in the common definition of those terms. More politically naive but perhaps a by product of his own style of and preference for consensus building. He definitely likes to bridge differences but I don't he gets that when it comes to the GOP and even some members of his own party, there are irreconcible differences.

If these were normal times, then his style of leadership might work but these aren't normal times. To argue with the GOP is to argue with an inmovable object.

By his own admission, he's not an ideologue. But that is, I think, what is needed.


by Charles Lemos 2010-02-23 10:28PM | 0 recs
RE: agree with you 100% Charles

Obama's handling of GOP obstructionism has been different than his handling of the primnary and general campaign, as well as different than his policies on things like Iran.

In the campaign, he let Clinton and McCain go negative first. It was only after the public digested the fact that Obama was nice while they were mean that Obama then went on the attack (especially in the General election).

With Iran, Obama tried for a long time to use carrots and extended a hand to the Iranian regime. But now he's moving to use sticks (sanctions).

But with the GOP, he's still extending hand after hand instead of whipping out all the big sticks. I just don't understand the strategy there.

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 11:06AM | 0 recs
Here's what I don't get

-Currently, 290 bills have passed the house only to be blocked in the Senate.

-The GOP and a few Blue Dogs blocked Obama's appointments for a year, etc.

-The GOP basically has a standing fillibuster on everything.


So what I don't get is why - in this time of economic woe when so many people in this country are suffering or know someone who is suffering - WHY THE HELL AREN'T OBAMA AND THE DEMS SCREAMING ABOUT THIS STUFF AT EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY, 24 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK?

In Obama's big speeches, we get a lot of "I am working with the Republicans"; "I included these good ideas that came from Republicans", "so and so Republican worked with me on such and such bill" and so on.

Meanwhile, we get a few tepid statements here and there (and perhaps one or two stronger ones) about obstructionism instead of it being the first and last thing out of Obama's and every other Democrats' mouths whenever they get a chance to be in front of a microphone.

That's the exact opposite of what somebody does when he wants to help foament public anger against obstructionism. But it IS what somebody does when he cares about being seen as "bipartisan" more than getting the peoples' work done, or when they are terrified of being called "partisan". What the heck is going on here?

by jeopardy 2010-02-23 10:18PM | 0 recs
No question

that the Senate is the larger problem in American governance.

The President has had flashes of brillance when he goes on the attack but then he retreats to his Mr. Rodgers persona.

by Charles Lemos 2010-02-23 10:36PM | 0 recs

While I respectfully disagree with the premise of your diary, I cannot find any logical reason to disagree that the President fares best when on the attack. The poll numbers support your hypothesis. As previously noted, there was a surge of about 6 points in gallup (that held) after the debate with Republicans.

The problem I see with offense is not specific to just Obama, but the entire WH message. There needs to be deputies as well. Where are these people? Where's Joe Biden? Where are the big mouths like Chuck Shumer?

Heck, even 5 heart attack 5 deferment Dick is still gettimg the Bush message out a year after office without Bush saying a word.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-23 11:42PM | 0 recs
Obama is a failed President

I worked for and gave a bit of money to the Obama Campaign and right now I know that was a mistake.  As a President he is simply a failure.  He won't fight for anything and is totally uninterested in leading the country anywhere.  Certainly the Senate is a disaster but Obama should have known this from the begining and at least have tried to beat them into shape.

The problem with Obama is that he doesn't even try - frankly I don't think he even cares.  Hopefully he won't run for re-election and we can try and find someone who will fight for Democratic ideals.  If he runs he will loose and we will be left with a nut case Republican for 4 years.

What I fear most right now is what Obama will do to destroy things like Social Security and Medicare.  He is so concerned with giving into Republicans I think he will do more damage to those programs than they would ever do.

by mwfolsom 2010-02-24 09:31AM | 1 recs
RE: Obama is a failed President

 Best. Post. Ever.

by QTG 2010-02-24 10:06AM | 0 recs
RE: Obama is a failed President

This was always the most likely result for Obama. I voted for him as the lesser evil, and he has been that. Things would have been worse had anyone else won. Still, history is going to look back at him as someone who, in a time of great challenge, failed his country.

by jackquil36 2010-02-25 12:56PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama is a failed President

Sorry, Jack. I presumed everyone knew I was being facetious.

by QTG 2010-02-25 01:19PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama's Failure of Leadership

Much has been written about the Obama administration's deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That's the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.

But Obama's deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times.

On August 13, The Times reported that while President Obama had presented himself as "aloof from the legislative fray," particularly in connection with the public option, "Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been...negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president's rhetoric." One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.

According to The Times:

"Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying-Medicare rates...or controlled by the secretary of health and human services. 'We have an agreement with the White House that I'm very confident will be seen all the way through conference', one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter...Industry lobbyists say they are not worried [about a public option.] 'We trust the White House,' Mr. Kahn said."

Mr. Kahn's lobbying group, with whom the White House made the deal, represents America's investor-owned, hospitals whose profits could be diminished by a public option with the negotiating clout to negotiate lower prices. To say that the deal included ensuring that any public option would not be "controlled by the secretary of health and human services" is code for saying it would not be national in scope and would lack negotiating clout--In other words, the Obama administration made a deal that a national public option on day one comparable to Medicare was off the table.

On September 9, a few weeks after The Times reported Obama's deal to gut the public option, President Obama gave his big health care speech to a Joint Session of Congress. In the speech, Obama said one of the programs he was considering was a "not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange." Supporters of the public option took this as a sign that Obama was on their side.

But Washington insiders noticed that Obama parsed his words very carefully. The New York Times noted that:

"Mr. Obama's call for a public plan, however, omitted any discussion of what rates it might pay or who might control it...'He worded it really carefully, because he said 'not for profit' and he didn't say it had to be controlled by the government,' Mr. Kahn [the hospital lobbyist] added. 'The way he described it, we could support that!"

In other words, Obama signaled the private health care industry that his deal that there would be no meaningful public option still stood.

Throughout the process, the White House has given vague statements supporting the public option -- enough to keep liberals and progressive on board -- while repeatedly undermining the public option in practice. Jane Hamsher has written a useful timeline of White House efforts to undermine the public option.

There is no evidence that President Obama has ever twisted the arm of a single Senator to support a public option and plenty of evidence that he has assiduously avoided doing so, sending a message to Senators that he doesn't want a public option.

When the Senate passed its version of the health reform bill, the reason the White House gave for there being no public option was that it couldn't garner 60 votes. But Joe Lieberman, who could have been the 60th vote, insists that the Obama administration never pressured him to support either a public option or a Medicare buy-in. And Sen. Russ Feingold blamed the demise of the public option in the Senate on the White House's failure to push for it.

Now the White House is saying they're not including a public option in Obama's plan because they can't get even 51 Democratic votes in the Senate. Does anyone really believe that if President Obama really wanted a public option -- if he hadn't dealt the public option away in a backroom deal with the for-profit hospital industry -- he couldn't get 51 out of 59 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote for it?


by jeopardy 2010-02-24 07:23PM | 0 recs


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