Thursday, December 17, 2009

Which Side Are You On?

Are you in favor or real reform or a givaway to the health insurance companies? Are you with Joe Lieberman or Howard Dean?

Well at least Obama's making his position clear:
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs strongly hit back at former DNC Chairman Howard Dean for criticizing the Senate health care bill, suggesting, at one point, that Dean was being irrational and didn't understand the contents of the legislation.

"I don't know what piece of legislation he is reading," said Gibbs.

"I would ask Dr. Dean, how better do you address those who don't have insurance: passing a bill that will cover 30 million who don't currently have it or killing the bill?" he added. "I don't think any rational person would say killing the bill makes a whole lot of sense at this point."

Asked if Dean was acting irrationally, Gibbs replied: "I can't tell what his motives are, to be honest with you."
. . .
"If this is an insurance company's dream, I think the insurance companies have yet to get the memo," he summarized.
As Sam Stein points out, Gibbs must have missed Ben Smith's report where an insurance company lobbyist emailed him "we win", after the senate bill was negotiated. But regardless, calling Dean "irrational", and accusing him of not having read the bill? Where was one tenth of this anger towards any of the people actually responsible for giving us a shitty legislation?

And the president's feelings towards Joe Lieberman after he killed any prospect of a good bill?
Obama thanked Lieberman privately for his statement issued earlier Tuesday pledging support for the bill as long as the Medicare expansion and public option were eliminated from the bill, Lieberman said.
Well, fuck.

A reader at TPM says it best, it's not just about the losing:
I think people are pissed right now less at the fact that they didn't get what they wanted, and more at the fact that they feel like their people didn't really fight for it. Leaders don't always get what they want. But people recognize when true leaders at least give it a shot. And people judge that leadership by what they say in public and how hard they see them publicly pushing for it. Closed door negotiations don't count.

They wanted to see Obama push the public option and say that it was crucial, important part. His broad outlines of "cuts the deficit, improves coverage" is too bland and not something people can rally around, and he gives the impression that he's ceding power and leadership to a less capable bunch in the legislative branch.

They wanted to see news stories about how "staffers close to the majority leader" say that chaimanships and other perks were on the line for any Democrat who talked about filibustering this crucial bill.

They wanted to see congressional leadership and the president campaign hard for an "up or down vote on healthcare" the way the Republicans did so effectively for the judge appointments.

But none of that happened, and the things that people care about died with a whimper.

I know there's been a lot of game theory from people about how that would never work, etc. But the fact is that you can show leadership for big ideas and there's always still room to compromise at the end. At least then it would be clear that there was no other way, that you put up the good fight, better luck next time.

Instead they feel like the people they voted for and trusted to lead them failed. And it's hard to imagine making that same emotional commitment again in the future. Self defeating, yes. Temporary, maybe. But we're talking primal stuff here - people don't like wimps, not matter what party.
Watching Howard Dean completely dismantle Mary Landrieu on hardball last night is a nice reminder of what that type of emotional commitment and leadership actually looks like:

Any time someone tells you how you need to "come home" and support this bill, remember how much they've actually battled for real reform throughout this process. You don't owe them shit. They haven't fought for you, why should you fight for them?

Remove the mandate or kill the bill.

They've put us in a position where there are no good outcomes, but that doesn't mean we need to accept the worst possible one.

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