But amidst all the strum and drang, to quote the oft-hated Rahm Emanuel (Loved in 2006, loathed in 2009) "What you're seeing is the progressive backlash against the progressive backlash."
True dat. He is a sampler platter of today's highlights.
Is Obama really such a wimp? Or is he dealing with the harsh reality of: 1) the legacy of the Bush era; and 2) a divided Democratic party that has, in many ways, betrayed him?
It's hard to imagine that this is the health care plan that Obama envisioned during the campaign. Nor did he want to have to send tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan. But imagine the outcry had Obama begun to exit Afghanistan. He would have been the victim of a new stab-in-the-back legend on the right that might well have destroyed his presidency before it even had the chance to get off the ground. When it comes to health care, Congress will surely revisit it in coming years. Whether or not the bill contains a Medicare expansion, Obama is exactly right to say that it represents the biggest potential Democratic accomplishment since the establishment of Social Security. Little Joe Lieberman can pout and strut all he wants, but ultimately he'll be a mere footnote in the history of the bill.
The blunt fact is that Obama has been president for one measly year. Compared to the blunders that other presidents have committed early on, Obama is looking good. If the economy improves, he will look even better. So ignore the tedious and hypertrophied Obama bashers. And never forget that he is as as good and intelligent and decent a president as America will ever have. He still has a chance to become one of the greatest. Eight years from now, after Obama has successfully served two terms, that judgment may well look like a commonplace.
Joe Conason (from the end of a pretty positive profile of Howard Dean)
But the real crux of the argument between Dean and the bill's supporters is less about the details than over what this act means for the future of healthcare in America. For those who want the bill to pass despite its defects -- a position that I have come to share -- this is the moment when the nation decides that health insurance must be provided to every citizen, period. That tidal shift is why right-wing politicians and pundits are so ferociously opposed to this bill -- and why its passage would represent an important victory on the way to restoration of the American social contract.
The law for the law of unintended consequences is also an important reminder that this bill represents the beginning, rather than the end, of health-care reform. “I am not the first president to take up this cause,” Obama said back in September, “but I am determined to be the last.” He will not be the last, or even close to it.
But this bill is a start. It gives states the tools – new money, new regulations, new programs, new processes – to begin fixing the health-care system. Maybe just as importantly, it recognizes that, eventually, we’re going to have to fix the fix to the health-care system, too. Passing this flawed-but-important bill is, in part, a leap of faith. It is a bet that we, as a society, can solve our problems. It is an admission that we never get it totally right, but that that’s no excuse not to try. It is a decision to trust ourselves to do our best with what we know now, and apply the hard-won knowledge of experience when we know more later. It says so right in the legislation.
There are those who oppose this bill, and its aims, in its totality. I don’t agree with their opposition, but I respect it. Those who would let their disappointment with a small piece of the bill cancel out their support for the overarching effort are, however, making a far more serious mistake. Chances to take large steps forward on longstanding problems do not come often in American politics. This legislation is not perfect, but it can be moved in that direction. The same cannot be said for the status quo.
There's another factor that liberals should consider: the fate of their non-health-care priorities. The plain political fact is that if this bill dies, it will cripple Obama's presidency. Certain impassioned progressives are this week saying, "So what? We don't work in the White House. His political fortunes aren't our concern."
But how about the dozens of other issues that are of concern to progressives? If health-care reform dies, the Democrats will be pummeled in 2010, just as they were in 1994 when Clinton's bill went down. Failure breeds failure. The 12 years that followed that shellacking were dark times for progressive ideas. Any liberal who wants to risk going back to that era should have his head examined.
A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.
But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.
Ronald Brownstein (took a bit of a cheap shot at the start of his article, which, even though I'm mad at the Bill Killers, wasn't cool)
Minorities don't seem to have much doubt about their investment in this debate. In November's Kaiser Family Foundation health care tracking poll, two-thirds of non-white Americans said that their family would be better off if health care reform passes. Though the evidence suggests that non-college whites could also receive a disproportionate share of the bill's spending (since they constitute more of the uninsured), they are dubious: just one-third of them believe they would be better off, a reflection of the mounting skepticism about government such blue-collar whites are expressing across the board. Yet the most skeptical group is the college-educated whites, the same constituency that has the most access to health insurance today: only about one-fourth of them expect to be better off under reform.
Against the backdrop of those attitudes, it's instructive to compare Dean's blithe disregard for the Senate bill to the more measured and sensible tone that Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, struck when he held a teleconference Thursday to discuss the debate. Stern recapitulated the concerns that many on the Left hold about the bill--the adequacy of the subsidies for the uninsured, the bite of the "Cadillac" tax on high-end insurance plans. But Stern also insisted: "We can't just focus on what we don't like--it's the largest expansion of coverage since Medicare, it's the largest expansion in Medicaid; with the bill it would make things way better than what our current system does, for our members at least."
Stern didn't commit to endorsing the final bill, but he pointedly refused to join Dean in urging the Senate to tear up its work. Stern can't surrender to the vanity of absolutism because he represents a predominantly lower-income and minority constituency with a tangible stake in the outcome of this epic legislative struggle--not only for themselves but for their relatives, neighbors and friends. For much of the constituency that Dean and the digital Left represent, by contrast, the health care debate may be largely an abstraction--just another round in their perpetual struggle to crush Republicans and ideologically cleanse the Democrats.
David Weigel (posted the same paragraph about Minority support for HCR, then followed up with this dark little warning):
A plugged-in Virginia Democratic strategist told me, after Creigh Deeds’s bumbling gubernatorial campaign came to an end, that there was a tide shift when Deeds appeared to say he would opt the state out of a public option if it passed the Senate. Black voters, especially, wanted health care to pass — it made it tougher to get them out to vote for Deeds when he said that.