This has seemed like a bad week for healthcare reform. Congressional Blue Dogs are doing their damnedest to kill the public option, and the White House seeming to backtrack on their support of it. While expressing strong support for it, Gibbs has consistently refused to draw a line in the sand on the public option, and this week, inched back a little.
If this were any other politician, I’d be throwing my hands up in disgust, because this is how these backslides start. The obvious interpretation is that the White House is innoculating itself from the public option’s defeat.
In Barack Obama’s case, though, this isn’t so obvious. I’ve spoken before about his unique political MO, likening it to the “rope-a-dope.” In this case, I hope, he’s being more of a chess player. Since I’m more of a Gnip-Gnop player, I haven’t got it all figured out yet.
It is important to note that my confidence in the President, to this point, is based on past performance, not magical thinking. He’s a progressive in triangulator’s clothing. I’ve been sure he was blowing it before, only to be proven wrong.
This time may be different, however. He was right to determine that momentum was key to passing strong reform. Already, this week, one poll is being used deceptively to claim support for a public option is slipping. The spineless sellout Blue Dogs think they’re in the driver’s seat. Opponents of the public option continue to pound the public with lies. Now, it seems like the White House is sounding the retreat.
If Barack Obama is the chess player I think he is, he’s got a plan to rescue the public option from the Blue Dogs. If I’m right, it will involve Rahm Emanuel and some blunt conversations about mid-term elections.
I don’t think that Barack Obama is a bad enough politician to take the disastrous hit of no public option when he’s got airtight majorities in both houses of Congress. On the other hand, he likes for it to look like the other guy’s idea.
Either way, I hope the President knows that defying his base, and 76% of Americans, is not an option. Time to use that powder.