Kumbaaya In A Box
President Obama, strategizing yesterday with congressional leaders about health-care reform, complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation.
In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to "true" health-care reform.
"We shouldn't be focusing resources on each other," Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. "We ought to be focused on winning this debate."
Specifically, Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for "advancing legislation" that fulfills his goal of expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system.
In the call, leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August.
For his part, the president vowed to use his strong approval rating with voters to continue making the case for sweeping reform, according to one congressional staffer with knowledge of the conversation. Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats, according to the source, who did not have permission to speak on the record about the discussion.
God I hate it when politicians insult your intelligence right to your face. That simplistic kumbaaya bullshit is about as useful as telling us to join hands and think happy thoughts and then we'll all have health care. I hated it when george W. Bush spoke to the public as if they were 5 year olds, but at least it was clear that he actually thought like a 5 year old himself. When Obama does it, it's infuriatingly condescending. (These comments remind me of a month or so ago when the white house official was asked by a reporter why the insurance companies were offering up all these cost savings and replied, "because they're good Americans.")
All you have to do is read the paper to know that the people standing in the way of any workable health care reform are mushy, centrist robots and insurance company whores in the Democratic Party. We have the majority, the Republicans are imploding, there is no debate at the moment among anyone but Democrats. In the middle of this hot negotiation, putting ads on the air that say "let's get some health care!" is a joke.
I suspect that the truth is that he thinks he's clumsily triangulating. But the groups that he's criticizing are actually trying to support his position on the public plan and attacking them undermines the public plan as well. (Of course, it's always possible that's the intention, but I hope not.)
The problem is that triangulation is for the purpose of positioning the president between two poles in the debate. He's just set one of the poles as the public plan, which says to certain wobbly Senators that it's negotiable. I would have thought the better way to deal with this is to assure these congressional twits (who gladly ate tremendous amounts of shit from right wingers for years, but get livid at the tiniest criticism from the left) that he isn't endorsing any of these attacks, but that there's not much he can do about it. It's a free country. These waverers might just realize that he's serious about getting a public plan without him having to explicitly tell them so.
By now it's obvious that dismissing and humiliating the base is a conscious White House strategy and I'm sure it's sometimes quite useful, even though it's a distinctly unsavory political tactic (and one that erodes support over time.) But in this case, if they really want health reform, it's counterproductive. He needs the outside groups to play this role and by publicly reprimanding them he's undermining these groups with their already skittish donors --- and the cause itself.
But again, that's assuming that's not exactly what they want to do. If they want to undermine the public plan then this is one good way to do it.
Update: FYI, I am aware of Ceci's perfidious antics. I wrote about it just last week. She is a Village kewl kid through and through. But it pays to remember that the Village is now in Democratic hands.