Is The President Not Telling Us Something?

John Aravosis writes:

There's something the President is not telling us. And it's rather annoying for him to be lecturing us about coming together when, frankly, we are together. Unified around a campaign promise [a public option] he is so blithely blowing off. We have the best chance at reform in a generation, and this White House is trying awfully hard to get the bare minimum with the least possible effort. We deserve to know why.

I disagree with John. The President and his team have been telling you for some time and people just do not want to believe it (see Steve Benen) -- he does not care about the public option. He can live with it and he can live without it. Why do folks have such a hard time accepting this? The goal now should be to make him live with it. Speaker Pelosi is doing her bit. Make Leader Reid do his. Obama has been and will be a bystander in all of this.

Speaking for me only

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    Grijalva (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 12:59:32 PM EST
    has also been very clever.  See the HuffPo today:

    The robust public option is eight votes short of the 218 it needs to pass the House, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) tells HuffPost.

    Grijalva, as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been counting support for a public option tied to Medicare rates -- the so-called Medicare plus five -- over the last few weeks.


    There are 256 Democrats in the House. With 25 or 30 no votes, that leaves only about 15 to 20 members still to decide. Progressives need roughly half of them.

    He's framing anonymous fence-sitters as not understanding the momentum and having no real reason to oppose the public option.  They have no real identity, while the Progressive Caucus does.  They should definitely win the day on this.

    There is no reason why this can't be done to Landrieu or Nelson or Conrad.  But they're not so much being pinched as allowed to roam free, pontificating as they go.

    The good news, I guess, is that the House clearly has far better negotiators than either the WH or the Senate.  And they're charging at full speed.

    With excellent report by CBO on (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:04:19 PM EST
    their side.

    People have a hard to accepting Obama's (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by Faust on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:08:33 PM EST
    lack of interest because it means that they were wrong about him. That he's not change they can believe in, at least not on this issue. Being wrong sucks. Ergo, best to avoid it. Isn't it really just that simple?

    This is the candidate who, after Hillary (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:18:48 PM EST
    Clinton laid out her position on HCR during the debates, was asked the same question.  His response:  what she sd., but no mandates.  Why would anyone think his top priority was health care reform?

    And, huh, hmm! (5.00 / 5) (#11)
    by Pacific John on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:22:21 PM EST
    You'd have to be hopelessly in love or completely ignorant of American politics to miss the message in his Harry and Louise ads.

    I got the message back then (none / 0) (#36)
    by noholib on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:34:24 PM EST
    Yes, it was precisely those ads that turned me off about Obama during the primaries and they helped me make up my mind in favor of HRC rather than BO.  When so many thought he was so progressive, I simply thought it was unconscionable for a Democrat to use ads like that.  Don't get me wrong: I was greatly relieved to kick out the Repubs in the election, but I never felt that Obama's heart was really in the health care issue and I never expected him to fight for fundamental change.  You recall that he wouldn't allow single-payer even to be discussed in Washington.  It's a real pity --and a lost opportunity -- not to get something stronger when the Democrats are in the MAJORITY.  Where are the arm-twisters when you need them?

    why won't that stupid public option quit? (5.00 / 8) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:25:11 PM EST
    I love it! (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by NJDem on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 02:25:13 PM EST

    And it amazes me that basically no one,unless I missed it, had been up in arms about breaking the campaign promise to have these meetings open-door and televised... While the health care debate is complicated and not easily understood, the commitment to transparency is pretty simple...


    I Love It Too (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by norris morris on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:06:26 PM EST

    You are so right. I think we're going to have to go to the streets.

    The reason the healthcare debate is complicated and not clearly understood is because our leader hasn't taken the time to explain it.  Nor has he even sent out WH talking heads to fill the media with clarity about HC. Public Option? He can take it or leave it.  In my opinion he better take it.

    The silvertongued Obama can't explain the main sticking points of what he feels is a good program?

    He's been waffling, boxing, spinning.  But not using his super special speaking skills to let us in on HC!  He's been MIA.

    So everyone is giving Obama political cover at our expense and the public is kept ignorant of the finer points and sees no strong leadership from the WH on this.

    What happened to Obama's voice?


    His most robust supporters (none / 0) (#24)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 02:52:53 PM EST
    are under their parent's health insurance plans and didn't really know what the candidates were even talking about.....HCR?

    No, they didn't really know (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Pacific John on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 03:05:40 PM EST
    ...and they couldn't see through it because they had never been to a Billy Graham rally.

    But now they have.


    heh! (none / 0) (#22)
    by Faust on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 02:22:40 PM EST
    It depends on the def. of "promise" (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Pacific John on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:16:31 PM EST

    John acts like this was one of those really super duper promises like pulling troops out of Iraq,  revoking telecom immunity, or a new era of transparency, but it's far less.

    Obama's milquetoast version of the public option was slid onto his website platform in the dead of night primarily to deflect fire from the JRE and HRC camps, both of which had solid public options.

    The Obama campaign's public option, aside from being primarily a campaign tactic, was barely more than the electrons on the OFA server, a pilot program open only to those who otherwise could not get insurance.

    This is a case where supporters projected their own dreams onto Obama only to find out he's just not that in to them.

    I don't (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:56:15 PM EST
    see much difference between "blowing off" and "doesn't care about"
    when it come to Obama and the public option.

    When he comes around seeking votes, let's see if he perceives the difference between the portion of the electorate who blows him off and the portion of the electorate who doesn't care about his reelection.

    I know some very bright people (none / 0) (#25)
    by Pacific John on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 03:03:32 PM EST
    in real life who only pay casual attention to politics, and they are disappointed. As friends have explained, they vote for someone who looks bright, hardworking, and earnest. They assumed that hard work would produce results and are frustrated that thir good faith has not been respected.

    No disrespect (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by smott on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 05:01:27 PM EST
    ...but they were not paying much attention, which when you vote for President, you probably should...

    ANyone not caught up in the cult of Obama's personality shouldn't be the least bit surprised the way things are turning out.

    What "hard work" did they see in Obama's record, or during the campaign,  or expect from him once he took office?


    As someone not caught up (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by mentaldebris on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 05:56:20 PM EST
    in the personality cult (either way, no matter who got in they were going be a disappointment) let me just say Obama has completely destroyed and buried even my very meager hopes for his presidency. He is a disappointment on a grand scale.

    Even your "told you so" doesn't come close to exposing the difference between Candidate Obama and President Obama. And here is where I have to disagree with you. Obama does fight and work hard.  He fights and works hard for his corporate benefactors. He's got his nose to the grindstone. For them. He's pushing back hard against the majority. For them. He's fighting hard. For them. Not for us.

    His slogan should have been 'Yes You Can but I'll be fighting you the whole way if it in any way rocks the lucrative establishment boat I hitched a ride on".  


    OK (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by smott on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 06:19:01 PM EST
    Thanks, mentaldebris point taken....

    I guess I'd respond that when you have the benefactors that Obama has, that pretty much precludes hard work of any kind...

    That when you opt for the lucrative establishment boat, your nose is definitely NOT against the grindstone. You took the easy way out.

    That your choice of going with those benefactors was, in fact, your choice NOT to work hard.  


    Sorry for the late response. (none / 0) (#42)
    by mentaldebris on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 01:12:38 AM EST
    The hard work comes in trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people who voted for you when you've sold them out, especially in an age where the sellout is broadcast instantaneously.

    Obama tap dances over all the place not to get called on the lies and broken promises.  He reminds me of Richard Gere in "Chicago" in his big tap dancing scene.  It must be exhausting.

    You're right, he took the easy way out by getting in bed with the corporate pirates but he never expected the extent of the public pushback and that means he has to work hard not only to maintain the largess of his benefactors, but also not to totally alienate the voters in the process.  Problem is, he can't have it both ways.  

    People have and are going to notice his words and actions don't match. In the current anger-filled climate, keeping up the facade of working for The People is going to take some hard work and extraordinary fancy footwork on his part. He's good, but I'm not sure he has the talent to pull it off.


    president wind turbine (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Illiope on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 02:02:22 PM EST
    Unified around a campaign promise [a public option] he is so blithely blowing off

    the only "promise" i vividly remember from the campaign was: CHANGE.

    and, like everything else, his promises to reform healthcare is followed an asterisk, with a toss of salt over his shoulder and crossed fingers, as he blows off his promise with enough wind-power to light up buffalo for the entire month of february.

    of course, this should NOT have been a surprise.

    "President Wind Turbine" (none / 0) (#31)
    by pluege on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 05:29:58 PM EST
    perfect. apropos. Lots of hot air.

    "Lots of hot air" (none / 0) (#39)
    by Spamlet on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:34:47 PM EST
    Balloon boy?

    BTD, Not Quite Correct (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by pluege on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 05:27:44 PM EST
    he does not care about the public option. He can live with it and he can live without it.

    this would only be true if the chance of a public option/no public option were 50-50. But because the uphill battle is to inject the public option into the HCR bill and still get it passed in the Senate, Obama's sidelines position is actually against the public option.

    Looked at another way, if it takes action on the part of Obama to get a robust public option through the Senate, Obama's inaction on the public option has the practical affect of improving the chances of not having a public option.

    obamadmin is well aware of this. Ergo, their inaction on the public option is anti-public option, i.e., Obama does care about the public option - he's against it. Always has been.  

    Straight on (none / 0) (#34)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 06:56:54 PM EST
    Good conclusion.

    Maybe the change from an all-powerful (none / 0) (#2)
    by ruffian on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:03:12 PM EST
    executive to a bystander executive is just too much shock to the system. People are used to Congress being lapdogs for the administration and not taking the initiative. In time I would be all for this model of a strong Congress and hands-off executive, but we need to grow some better congresscritters in the transitional period.

    True. (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by mentaldebris on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 05:10:55 PM EST
    Not gonna to get that with Harry Reid.  As it is, Obama has sent in some of his cabinet members to hold Reid's hands  through the health insurance "reform" process.

    Now, given most of these same cabinet members gently guiding Reid (Rahm and a couple of others) have publicly pooh-poohed the public option, and Harry, if nothing else, is a go along to get along weak-kneed weasel, it won't be long before we discover exactly what it is President Obama really wants out of reform. IOW, whatever comes from Reid Obama owns. Period.

    It's one thing to say you're leaving it up to Congress, it's another to be actually do it. Whether Reid begged for guidance or the WH wanted to make sure he wasn't electorally scared into ruining some of their industry deals is debatable.  I'd place bets it's some combination of the two. But here we have is a WH who doesn't want to commit to the PO for somewhat puzzling reasons and a Senate leader incapable of committing to anything without be told what to commit to. Whatever Reid ultimately commits to, he's doing it because he was told to. That's just the way he rolls.

    At least Pelosi is owning it in the House with no WH handholding (so far).


    this is a one time thing (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:06:50 PM EST
    I imagine John's question is why on this issue? I think the answer is simple - Obama wants to be able to declare victory no matter what.

    Also take no responsibility (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by star on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:36:23 PM EST
    In case the public opinion turns or something goes wrong :(
    Remember that bus with lot of people under it???

    again (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:38:10 PM EST

    You might be right (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by david mizner on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:41:58 PM EST
    But it could be more insidious.

    A few weeks ago Robert Reich wrote:

    Big Pharma and big insurance hate the public insurance option even more than they hate big Medicare discounts. And although the President has sounded as if he would welcome it, political operatives in the White House have quietly reassured the industries that it won't be included in the final bill.

    Here's what Scarecrow wrote today:

    Why should we not also believe that the White House has a deal to shield insurers from competition by preventing the creation of a public option in exchange for the insurers agreeing to reforms on guaranteed issue and limited community ratings (with the flexibility Baucus provided) and to support this framework with tv ads? (Read Ignagni's WaPo op-ed today; while defending the PwC study, she says they made a deal, but Baucus broke it; she didn't say the deal's off.

    more insidious, yes (none / 0) (#19)
    by sancho on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:45:55 PM EST
    i hope i'm wrong but i think the president actually can't live with the public option. he does not want it and he understands that he was elected by his biggest (richest, most connected) supporters to make sure it did not happen. i don't think that his true base are the people who read the so-called liberal blogs. as i say, i hope i'm wrong.

    Probably true about the one time thing (none / 0) (#12)
    by ruffian on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:23:38 PM EST
    Definitely true about the answer.

    precisely (none / 0) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:23:57 PM EST
    if any credit is due it should go to congress but it will not.

    In other news (none / 0) (#6)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:09:23 PM EST
    Scarecrow has got you beat on the skeptic beat!

    No question to me this is way more effective than the Booman approach.

    Ouch (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by sj on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 04:45:19 PM EST
    House Speaker Pelosi does not seem to need the White House to tell her how to merge three House bills while improving them. But apparently, Harry Reid is not capable -- or cannot be trusted -- to merge two Senate bills without having Rahm Emanuel, Peter Orszag and Kathleen Sebelius present every meeting


    The White House isn't taking up most of the chairs in Harry's Reid's meetings just to watch him make decisions on his own. They're there to make sure Harry Reid doesn't undo the White House deals and wander off the reservation.

    There is no Booman Approach (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:11:21 PM EST
    except play pundit. Certainly it is not an activist approach worth mentioning.

    that's fine so long as daggers are not thrown at those doing activism.

    Hell, I am just punditing myself.


    Far less so than (none / 0) (#10)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:20:43 PM EST
    Ezra or Yglesias, maybe, but I think Booman and John Cole too shape the debate.  And they may not be throwing daggers but they're certainly throwing something IMO at the people asking important questions and keeping up the pressure on the WH in the health care debate.

    Cole is (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 01:36:04 PM EST
    Booman not really.

    "campaign promise" (none / 0) (#35)
    by diogenes on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:21:51 PM EST
    Sorry, there was no mandate for the public option.  It was not exactly the chief topic of the McCain-Obama debates.  

    Obama himself at times (none / 0) (#40)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 08:36:06 AM EST
    dissapoints.  But does Al Franken win in MN if Obama not been our nominee, does Alan Grayson?  Would any other candidate have so transformed the  world's view of the US as Obama has in as short a period of time?  What other Democrat carries VA, IN and NC?

    And the jury is still out on HCR.  We have got some real progressives with spines in Congress who will push Obama and the nation in the direction we need to go.  Pelosi is putting serious pressure on both Reid and Obama for a meaningful public option.  And in the process the health insurance industry may lose its anti-trust exemption.

    We need to keep the pressure on Obama to be more progressive, and especially to throw out Geithner, Summers and Co, no doubt about it.  And that may mean a progressive primary challenge in 2012.  But we also need to be objective in recognizing the value he has already brought to US politics.