Friday, September 4, 2009

Firing Too Soon

This is a thought I've been having over the last few days. There were several times during the primaries when I felt like the Obama team wasn't doing enough. They seemed to just sit back and let things play out. At the time this unnerved me; although I like Hillary Clinton, I was still very supportive of Obama and I felt like doing this would let her get the upper hand. However, as we now know that didn't happen and Obama won the primary and the general election.

I think the same thing might be happening with health care. In some sense it's a good idea to draw out your opposition (especially when they're as numerically weak as the current Republican party) and let them take their best shot. August is over, and the memory of the town halls (or, rather, the minority that drew the most attention) will fade. I've noticed my more liberally-minded friends have now started to be more vocal about their support for a "public option" in whatever bill is finally passed, and whether they know it or not I think now is a good time to be more involved. One nice thing about the network news cycle is it doesn't last very long, so if you can ride out these media "waves" then you're likely to end up in a stronger position.

I don't claim to be a prognosticator for the Obama folks, and for all I know they're scrambling trying to figure out how to "respond" and not playing offense (the normal sort of reaction to these sorts of things). Nevertheless, I hold out hope that there is something of a larger strategy at work, and in my mind something like what I've described above could be effective against the Karl Rove-ish strategy of whisper campaigns and winning news cycles. If so, then I can't help but thing those who oppose the "public option" have fired too soon.


Steve M. said...

I've been disgusted with the healthcare debate over the past couple months, and I've certainly been frustrated with the President. But I'm actually feeling pretty optimistic about his upcoming speech to Congress.

I remember reading an article shortly following the RNC last year, when Obama was down in the polls. The author argued that Obama was simply playing it cool and letting things play out, and that so far that had been a winning strategy for him. Turns out that it was.

Now that the opposition's voices have gotten hoarse, I think Obama has an opportunity to take control of and refocus the debate. And it looks like he's not just giving a speech, but bringing something substantive to the table; the White House is reportedly drafting its own bill.

I don't think he's going to win over any Republicans. None of them is seriously on-board with reform, no matter what form it takes. But I'm hoping the President can show some real leadership here, build consensus among the Democrats, and get something passed.

Andrew said...

Me too, although I wonder if he'll have to be burned by "bipartisanship" in order to get there. No Republican will vote for the Obama plan, no matter what it contains. He could pull out the "public option" and all the other stuff they mention and they'd still not vote for it. That's not how they play politics. I hope this isn't the issue where he learns that lesson.

Jacob S. said...

I hope you are right and that he is able to just wear them down and get the thing passed. What I worry about, however, is that passing health care reform cost so much political capital and energy and good will that it forecloses the possibility of getting a good climate bill passed.

Puncheur said...

Hoping for a public option to be enacted for the sake of merely having one glosses over the abhorrent mechanic within every bill that has yet to be put forth. The underlying "revenue streams" for covering the outlandish costs that have been identified by the CBO are none other than the usual suspects of commerce and free enterprise that typically rouse the ire of the Left.

The price to pay for this mill stone will impact everyone regardless of an individual's desire for a choice and the "public option" by design relegates the newly regulated system as subservient to the body which designed the public option. Is there competition when the rules are dictated to you?

Rather than scrap a system in it's entirety, we would be better served having reform within the existing system rather than creating one from scratch. Obama's chances for passage would be greater and the recently identified 45% of all U.S. General Practitioners would think twice about early retirement rather then be saddles with overbearing regulation.