The Conciliator-in-Chief

“Now I could stand up here and say, let’s get everybody together, let’s get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing. And everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect. But I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and make the special interests disappear.” - Hillary Clinton in Providence, Rhode Island on February 24, 2008

One of the more memorable moments in the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008 came two years ago today when then Senator Clinton unleashed a torrent of sarcasm mocking the then Senator Obama as unrealistic and hopelessly naive in his approach to politics. It is thus indeed ironic that tomorrow President Obama will seek to salvage the healthcare reform package currently mired in the Congressional mud with a "let's get unified" gathering at the Blair House, an event that the GOP is calling "The Blair House Project" — after the 1999 horror movie "The Blair Witch Project." For President's sake, David Alexrod might consider hiring a celestial choir if only to combat such evil spirits. Otherwise, I am afraid the Republican leadership in attendance is unlikely to be moved much less exorcised.

Thirteen months into the Obama Presidency, Clinton's assessment is as valid as ever and of increasing concern. The President has spent a year courting the Republicans with precious little to show for his efforts. The Republicans, meanwhile, have largely achieved their aims of grinding government to a halt and seem poised to make substantial electoral gains come November's mid-term elections. Obstructionism may make for ugly governance but it sure seems likely to pay handsome political dividends.

What compromise has been achieved in the halls of government has largely come at our expense, not theirs. The public option is off the table, while tort reform seems forever on it. It is not just healthcare reform, if it can be called that at this point, that is stalled; it is just about every major part of the Democratic agenda. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act and the US Postal Service Financial Relief Act - all passed by the House - languish in the Senate. In total, 290 bills sit gridlocked in the Senate's docket stalled by the partisan tactics of Mitch McConnell and Company.

It is increasingly evident that the President's style as the conciliator-in-chief is not working. The strategy is unlikely to peel away a single Republican vote even as it jettisons wholesale the progressive agenda. More tragically, the probability of the President modifying his consensual approach to governing is nil. He is who he is. In his soul, he remains the community organizer who just wants to bridge differences and forge compromises. But the back halls of Washington are a far cry from the streets of south side Chicago. 

It is not that I bemoan the President's good-heartedness, his level-headedness or his even-handedness but there comes a point when one has to ask where are the results of this reaching out to the other side? It is as if the cause of Obama's Presidency is bipartisanship simply for the sake of bipartisanship. The policy be damned, but get me Olympia Snowe's vote seems to be his mantra.

While the President did campaign on the necessity of changing the tone in Washington, the GOP remains tone-deaf. What is there to say when Minority Leader John Boehner rails that  the President “basically crippled the summit expected on Thursday by coming in with a rerun of the same failed bill that couldn’t pass the House or Senate.” For a President who is hailed as a being attentive, he tunes out the vitriol that emanates from the GOP to his own detriment. He simply refuses to take the GOP at their word. Furthermore the White House seems blind to the reality that their approach is alienating the fickle to start Democratic base. It is as if our support isn't wanted. It's a rare progressive who is going to get excited over mandated insurance that ensures the bloated profitability of the insurance industry. 

All this is preface to what sparked this: Sheryl Gay Stolberg's insightful article that looks at the President's style of leadership in today's New York Times:

Ever since his days as a young community organizer in Chicago, Mr. Obama has held fast to the belief that by listening carefully and appealing to reason he can bring people together to get results, an approach that in Washington has often come up short.

He is not showing any signs of changing his style. But he is facing perhaps the toughest test yet of his powers of persuasion: winning the votes he needs, in the face of unified Republican opposition and a deteriorating climate for Democrats, to push his health care measure through a skittish Congress.

Mr. Obama has not been the sort to bludgeon his party into following his lead or to intimidate reluctant legislators. And while he has often succeeded by relying on Democratic leaders in Congress to do his bidding — the House and Senate, after all, both passed versions of the health legislation last year — it is not clear whether his gentle, consensus-building style will be enough.

Let me be brief and blunt: the President's belief is predicated on the assumption that he is dealing with rational actors. His premise is that the GOP can be reasoned with yet the evidence for such a belief is scant. This is not the party of Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt or even Gerald Ford or Jacob Javits. This is the party of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, James DeMint and James Inhofe. For every Lindsey Graham, there are ten Joe Wilsons. For every Olympia Snowe, there are ten Virginia Foxxes.

Over at Red State, Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan provides Exhibit A:

Designed to obfuscate this truth and devoid of any attempt to establish a shared, bi-partisan principle for reform, the Obama Administration’s summit constitutes a ShamWoW! infomercial for incrementally socialized medicine that threatens Americans’ health care; imposes double taxation on most Americans who are responsibly trying to save for their future during this painful recession; devolves private health insurance companies into government-dictated utilities; and further erodes the public’s waning faith that their government institutions are truly representative.

Consequently, with due respect for the President and ultimate respect for the American people, the Republican leadership has no choice. It must NOT accept the administration’s disingenuous summit invitation to “negotiate.”

The President reaches out, he's called disingenuous.

Exhibit B is courtesy of Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, a member of the GOP House leadership. On Meet the Press this weekend, he dismissed the Blair House summit as a trap saying "Democrats spell summit S-E-T-U-P."

In that realm there's Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speechwriter, with Exhibit C. You see, we have it all wrong, the real obstructionist is Obama.

The president’s real objective is to paint GOP leaders as obstructionists -- so that Democrats have an excuse to ram through their health-care legislation using extraordinary parliamentary procedures. Obstructionism has been Obama’s mantra ever since Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown’s election. Just last week in Denver, Obama declared that “for those who don’t believe in government, those who don’t believe that we have obligations to each other, it’s a lot easier task. If you can gum up the works, if you make things broken, if the Senate doesn’t get anything done, well, that's consistent with their philosophy.” This is dishonest. Republicans have a robust health-care agenda, from health savings accounts, to association health plans, insurance portability, and medical liability reform.

Shortly after taking office, the President met with the Republican House members on Capitol Hill. He told them that “The American people expect action. The key right now is to keep politics to a minimum. I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people’s business right now.”

For over a year the GOP played politics to the maximum with a scorched America policy and yet the President continues to discount their antics. It's time for the President to retire the conciliator-in-chief. If we are to go down, I'd rather go down swinging because I grow tired of constantly being whacked.

Tags: US Healthcare Reform, Obama Administration, Healthcare Summit (all tags)



If this is how we have to govern

the country is ungovernable. Very little has ever been done without some support on both sides of the eisle. FDR got some Republican support, he didn't even need it. Civil Rights never would've passed without Republican support, Medicare was partially drafted by a Republican.

With the exception of his tax cuts, most of Bush's successfull legislation had support from Democrats...the ones that didn't, such as Social Security privitazation did not pass.

Also, I'd just point out that despite convential wisdom on the blogs, Obama got a lot of support from young voters simply because he was willing to attempt to end the partisan back and forth that has turned young people off. Republicans know this and know the best way to force young people to tune out is to make Washington unworkably partisan again, so these votes go "ugh, nothing changed, they're still arguing back and forth" and tune out again, which is what happened.

Maybe it didn't work, doesn't make us a better country for it. In fact, it makes us a worse country.

and it doesn't make it more likely we get good legislation passed. It forces us to do one of two things...ram legislation through and defend oursevles from allegations of being too partisan and unconciliatory to other people's beliefs, or negotiate with ourselves and be forced to defend oursevles from allegations of being disorganized and incompetent.

Either way, the Republicans knew this would work, and there really isn't any way to stop it.

by ND22 2010-02-24 10:07AM | 1 recs
Charles you were right about the Senate

And you are right about the President. He is not a failure as a leader, far from it.

But in this battle - if he wishes it not to become his own personal Waterloo - he'd better give them a 'whiff of grapeshot' and send them running or else we're going to have a colossal mess on our hands.


This is an economy that is precariously balanced on the edge of recovery - real healthcare reform CANNOT be called reform unless it includes a national health service.  The fact that he did not explicitly mention the word 'option' at his last press conference, has to be taken as a sign that he does not in fact see it as optional. Neither does the Speaker of the House. 


If the President wins his current legislative face-off against the republicans over Healthcare, however which way he chooses - which will in no way conflict with his duty as executive - he will have shown himself to rise above the broken Senate and finally become a governor of men. 


Kudos for this post. Its the best I've read in over two months - I've been fuming over whats been going on with healthare ever since the senate did that silly christmas eve stunt and stuffed my stocking with lumps of coal.   The house bill through reconciliation! Let him publicly declare support for the senate version if he wishes, but if in the end - through reconciliation we have real reform then the GOP will have received his come-uppance and the entire country will light up like a christmas tree.


by Trey Rentz 2010-02-24 10:08AM | 0 recs

"Mr. Obama has held fast to the belief that by listening carefully and appealing to reason he can bring people together to get results." (the part you emphasized)

I take it you'd rather he not listen carefully? Does that men you'd rather have him not listen, or just not carefully? That he should not appeal to reason? Not try to bring people together?

Nice video of Hillary, Charles. Very reasonable. Loved Listening. Brang me together nicely.

by QTG 2010-02-24 10:15AM | 0 recs
Not really ironic

It is not ironic that his speech comes two years after Hillary's rant.  What IS ironic, is that the same qualities Clinton derided in Obama have gotten us closer to HCR than ever before. 

by lojasmo 2010-02-24 10:38AM | 2 recs
RE: Not really ironic

If you mean "health insurance reform". It's not what I or millions of other democrats voted for in '08. It's ironic how many times the goal post has been moved to give the President cover but frankly I am getting sick of the excuses and Obama's outstretched hand. He looks and acts weak lately, like he's not even trying and those backroom deals with the hospital and drug companies have really left a bad taste in my mouth...

by Jason Moreland 2010-02-24 11:04AM | 1 recs
RE: Not really ironic

unfortunately it is crappy republican HCR tht will not pass. 

The best thing would be to scrap it and start again with some one who can lead and is not fascinated by his own self image as a uniter not a divider.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-24 11:23AM | 1 recs
I love that these diaries

bring out the's like dropping crumbs and waiting for the cockroaches.

by ND22 2010-02-24 12:13PM | 3 recs
RE: I love that these diaries

HINT: there are no accidents.

by QTG 2010-02-24 12:16PM | 1 recs
Interesting theory

It does get boring when they're hiding the shadows. Jonathan is one of the best diarists here. He gets many recs, but few responses.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 02:33PM | 1 recs
RE: I love that these diaries

Not everyone who has a problem with the administration and the status quo is a PUMA. There are actually democrats who really care about issues and policy and not personality. It's really time for some of you to wake up and smell the coffee and stop pulling out the PUMA card whenever you read something you do not like. 

by Jason Moreland 2010-02-24 05:20PM | 4 recs

but Teresa is.

by ND22 2010-02-24 08:11PM | 1 recs

I don't have a problem with that label.  It just means I was right about Obama long before other people. 

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:31PM | 0 recs
RE: I love that these diaries

What is it with you PUMA obsessing posters?  No one here even knows what the hell you are talking about. You realize don't you how stuck you are in some battle you fought with someone many years ago, right?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 03:56PM | 0 recs
RE: What is it with you PUMA obsessing posters?

I assume you are scolding those few left here who think that drudging up videos like 'Hillary Mocks Obama', which immediately attracts known PUMAs to revisit old lame and unuseful Primary War battles, is worthy of a bronx cheer.

Scold on, since we know that you are over all that.

by QTG 2010-02-25 07:48PM | 0 recs
RE: What is it with you PUMA obsessing posters?

I'm addressing the "PUMA" obsession here, you have it too? I know there is some blog or some blogs out there somewhere that had that as a calling card a couple of years ago, but how does it get so stuck in your heads that you think it has any relevance?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 10:52PM | 0 recs
Some of us

show our faces in diaries on other topics, we're not, like you and your merry band of petties, only visible in diaries that criticize Obama and somehow retrace the primary wars. There isn't a comment from you in the last ten months that, in some way shape or form, didn't trash the President and hint back to your bitterness over the primaries.

Is it any wonder you went from being the blogfather to a nobody?

You lost, you sulked, you've been deplted of your relevance because you acted like a petulant child. Go find another career and stop embarassing yourself. I hear they're looking in biotechs.

by ND22 2010-03-01 11:29PM | 0 recs
RE: Some of us

Wow, is it stil May-June 2008 for you Nick? 

I can assure you, I'm doing great, so don't sulk on my behalf!

The SBNation success, could I really ask for more?

WSG, I won't list them all, but this was a fantastic race we just helped pull off:

Yea, I know that Obama has been a dissapointment to us all. Don't let it get yuu so down though, he should get better from here.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-02 08:31AM | 0 recs
RE: What is it with you PUMA obsessing posters?

this is not about Primary wars.  The jury is in on that, Hillary was the choice of the voters and the DNC said forget it.


This is about knowing all long what a drag on my party Obama was going to be.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:33PM | 0 recs
RE: What is it with you PUMA obsessing posters?


by Khun David 2010-02-26 04:11PM | 0 recs
Of they don't Jerome

because you banned pretty much EVERYONE who was here during the primaries.

The rest gave up and went elsewhere.

Now it's just you and your bitter sorry sisters.

by ND22 2010-02-28 12:40AM | 0 recs
RE: Of they don't Jerome

You are striving with incoherency. Nah, the banning is in your imagination, its just you left drinking some spoilage, the others have long ago realized what you can't get.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 12:51AM | 0 recs
RE: I love that these diaries

you say PUMA as if it were a bad thing. 

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:30PM | 0 recs
RE: PUMA a bad thing?

 PUMA was a bad thing during the Primary, and as a lingering festering pustule during the General Election.  However, PUMA, as in "Party Unity, my ass!" is actually the philosophy followed by almost everyone here at MyDD - though few would admit it. The evidence, as if it needs to be pointed out, is overwhelming. Democratic elected officials are more often the target of derision and scorn than Republicans. Killing legislation is the rule rather than the exception.

So, you have a welcome place to bash the President in your focused and limited way, whereas the New and Improved PUMAs discuss the broader crappiness of the Democrats in general.

I'm one of the few 'fanboys' who still recognize the value of giving my meaningless pennies and unalloyed moral support to the only option to Republican rulers. These are the good old days, as you will soon discover if PUMA plans continue to have success.

I'm not angry at PUMAs, new or old style. They can't hurt me. I'm demographically situated to actually benefit if Republicans regain power. If that sad event happens (it eventually will) I'll toast these good old days with a particularly expensive beverage in shockingly decadent surroundings.


by QTG 2010-02-26 05:10PM | 0 recs
RE: PUMA a bad thing?

You are one bitter person. Really stuck in some primary battle that happened and is gone. There's gotta be someplace on the net where you might be happier?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 12:52AM | 0 recs
like hillary or edwards or any other democrat could have advanced...


further. it does amuse me (let's call it that since i've gone way past frustration) at the complete and utter lack of discipline on the part of democrats when we hold the levers of (elected) power.  but, yeah, let's keep the guns aimed at the left, because the right has real firepower and it's much easier to attack the weaker opponent. the president pursues bipartisanship (i assume) because that's what he ran on.  the ability to appeal to broad spectrums of americans was what differentiated him from hillary.  that's who he is.  so this critique that the president is too bipartisan may make (some) people feel better, but it is both counterproductive (likely to alienate the president) and never going to produce any positive results.



it does amuse me (let's call it that since i've gone way past frustration) at the complete and utter lack of discipline on the part of democrats when we hold the levers of (elected) power.  but, yeah, let's keep the guns aimed at the left, because the right has real firepower and it's much easier to attack the weaker opponent.

the president pursues bipartisanship (i assume) because that's what he ran on.  the ability to appeal to broad spectrums of americans was what differentiated him from hillary.  that's who he is.  so this critique that the president is too bipartisan may make (some) people feel better, but it is both counterproductive (likely to alienate the president) and never going to produce any positive results.

voters still seem to prefer bipartisan efforts, especially in enacting major reform legislation:


ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Feb. 4-8, 2010. N=1,004 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.5.

"Do you think Obama is doing too much, too little or about the right amount to compromise with the Republican leaders in Congress on important issues?"

TooMuch TooLitt AbtRight Unsure  

9 44 45 2


the president has been pursuing bipartisan support for his (major) change agenda not simply because americans prefer that but because democrats in congress don't agree.  we can bitch all we want about the public option but until i see the votes in the senate, it's still a pipe dream.  complaining about the president -- who comes out of the senate, understands the senate and is probably far more realistic about what can be voted out of the senate than any of us -- is meaningless in that context.

more to the point, we aren't doing our job either.  republicans have an advantage not only is their ability to stay on message and stick together over long periods of time, but their message apparently resonates with voters.  this was made apparent during the massachusetts campaign that was largely over health care reform.  this graphic appeared in the economist following support for health care reform in massachusetts:

that's great.  the republican meme is right(???) -- the more we talk about health care reform, the worse it does???  if that isn't an indictment of our inability to properly frame a message that resonates with the public, and then stick to our guns, i don't know what is.  of course, the administration shares the blame with us; their communication strategy has clearly failed, but it's failure is, in part, due to the relentless criticism that it has received from the left.

it's not that far-fetched to conclude that progressives would prefer to attack then to enact.

what you should be talking about is the president's decision to stick to *his* guns and his announced agenda.  the public has every right to be pissed about the perception that the federal government isn't doing enough to bring back jobs.  the recent cbs/nytimes poll shows the frustration in america:

CBS News/New York Times Poll. Feb. 5-10, 2010. N=1,084 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" Open-ended

Economy/Jobs 52%

Health care 13%

Budget deficit/National debt 4%

War/Iraq/Afghanistan 3%

Big government/Bureaucracy 3%

Defense/Military 2%

Other 19%

Unsure 4%

i agree with the assessment that republicans aren't going to come together and work for the betterment of america.  from my pov, republicans focused on defeating hillary clinton, nominated the person they believed could do that, and then never switched gears after it became clear the barack would be our leader.  it took them until march or so of 2009 to finally come to terms with how to deal with the result.  now they aren't going to back down (because, you know, they are actually a disciplined force that can united behind a single cause or principle) until they've had a chance to defeat this president (at the ballot box).  we have three more years of this crap.

i disagree with this particular complaint because we don't know if the president's inclination will produce results.  the public clearly understands that the president is doing more to reach out to republicans than they are to compromise in return.  how will voters react to that?  we don't know yet.  and this president isn't likely to back down until there are real facts on the table.

so the question becomes, how do we, as people who support a progressive agenda, react to these facts on the ground?  criticizing our allies (the administration) isn't likely to result in anything other than temporary euphoria.  and if that's what we want, then why do we need to talk about a progressive agenda anyway?  if we're just looking for some thrill (talking truth to power), do we really need to con people into thinking that we're all for social change and action?

we need to be honest.  the government isn't likely to get any more conducive to a progressive agenda than it is now.  for democrats to stay in power, we will always have conservative and moderate representatives in congress who don't buy into our cause of the day.  if we can't build a proper frame around that (specific) cause, if we can't make it safe for these conservative and moderate democrats to vote for our issues, then we failed.

we have failed because we haven't done that.  anybody who thinks that politicians (especially politicians who've made it to congress) are brave souls who are willing to risk their careers to do the right thing for this country has not been paying attention.  it's time to start...





by bored now 2010-02-24 10:40AM | 1 recs
RE: like hillary or edwards or any other democrat could have advanced...

yes another democrat could have done better.  They would have started with single payer and gotten that passed or compromised from there.  They would not have started with corporate protectionism and then failed to pass even that.

It is not 1994 anymore.  The vast majority of Americans wanted more liberal HCR. that is what they voted for.  Unfortunately what we all got was a president more dedicated to his self image as a Uniter than to getting real reform passed.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-24 11:28AM | 1 recs
Since no serious candidate

supported single payer and everyone healthcare plan was some sort of "corporate protectionism" your fantasyland does not exist

by ND22 2010-02-24 12:14PM | 1 recs
puma fantasyland

a fightening though.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 02:31PM | 1 recs

actually Hillary said that if a democratic president ever had a veto proof majority in congress, single payer should be discussed.

But you are fooling yourself if you think either edwards or Clinton would have started with this crappy republican legislation and then given up on the public option.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:36PM | 0 recs
wow, you are delusional

she NEVER said that.

by ND22 2010-02-28 12:39AM | 0 recs
RE: like hillary or edwards or any other democrat could have advanced...

I find it impossible to imagine that any Democratic President would have started out further to the left on health care than the proposal they made when they were in the Democratic primary, trying to appeal to the Democratic base.

I adore Hillary but you can't possibly think that if she had been elected she would have suddenly started demanding single payer, can you?

by Steve M 2010-02-24 01:32PM | 2 recs
Obama's accused of being too Hillary?

The accusation on the left is that Obama's plan is too much like Hillary's (the mandate)!

I don't know what Hillary would have done on healthcare. She failed in 1994. Would she have succeeded a second time? Or would we be in the same place, on the verge of success.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 02:30PM | 1 recs
RE: Obama's accused of being too Hillary?

Like all the other Hillary supporters, I said "well of course it would be unacceptable to have a mandate without a public option."  Shhhhh...

by Steve M 2010-02-24 03:20PM | 0 recs
A whole other can of worms for 2016

The mandate doesn't go into effect untill 2016.

Yes, a mandate without a non-profit alternative or competition sits very poorly with me, and with the majority of people, I suspect.

Once the mandate is in the books, I suspect it will foster further reform based on the need to placate the public.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 05:48PM | 0 recs
RE: A whole other can of worms for 2016

I continue to think the mandate will not be a big deal because there are not actually that many people who will be upset that they're forced to have health insurance.  Most people already have health insurance or else they want it.  Having said that, I certainly won't be upset if you're right and the mandate continues to spur a movement for the public option.

As I recall, the concern of the Obama folks during the primary was not so much that the mandate was bad policy, as that it was very bad politics and would be super-easy for Republicans to demagogue in order to prevent a bill from passing.  Well, the jury is still out on that one.  But I maintain that it's the sort of reform that looks a lot worse in theory than in practice.

by Steve M 2010-02-24 07:02PM | 0 recs
that barack included a mandate...

was the biggest surprise (for me)...

by bored now 2010-02-24 08:14PM | 0 recs
RE: A whole other can of worms for 2016

a mandate without a public option is unconstitutional.  People who do not have insurance do not have it because they can not afford it and you want to pretend that forcing them to be at the mercy of private companies is a good thing?Am I misunderstanding you?

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:43PM | 0 recs

what makes you think it is unconstitutional?

Congress clearly has the power under the Commerce Clause.

by jeopardy 2010-02-26 01:55PM | 0 recs
RE: unconstitutional?

That's very debatable, and in fact, I would not be surprised to see 5 justices side with saying a mandate to buy private insurance is unconstitutional; but given such a corprate favor it is (the Gov't being the enforcer) they may like that part too, so hard to tell.

It would be unprecedented, the notion that you cannot live in the US without being forced to buy something from a corporation, but its right in line with the direction this country is headed.

but, Teresa is wrong that the PO would infact change the constitutionality issue of it.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-26 06:23PM | 0 recs
RE: unconstitutional?

it is not debateable whether Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause.This is pretty much the very definition of something that would fall under it.

Now, it could still be unconstitutional if it violated some other right somewhere. I believe that you are objecting to it on some other grounds besides the Commerce Clause.

THAT is what I'm asking about. What is the authority that says Congress can't exercise this particular power under the Commerce Clause.

by jeopardy 2010-02-28 02:56PM | 0 recs
RE: unconstitutional?

Listen, I'm not trying to convince you of something here. The point I'm trying to get across isn't to argue that the mandate is unconstituional or not either. It's simply pointing out that the Republicans are circling around that idea, and when politicians like Senator Hatch are saying the mandate is unconstitutional, its not a far stretch, despite whatever liberal sensitivities or historical presentation is put forth, that the Republican gang of 5 could likely go that same way of thinking.


by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 07:38PM | 0 recs
Please explicate

I am very interested in the theory of constitutional interpretation that would lead you to this conclusion.

by JJE 2010-02-26 04:26PM | 0 recs
RE: Please explicate

Here's the administrations view, or the wonk establishment, which isn't very convincing to me yet. Its pretty intellectually dishonest to pretend like an individual mandate to buy private insurance is just like other things that have "economic activity", and is is quite a bizarre notion when you realize we are talking about a person living in their own body. The TP defense above, which has been passed around a lot by liberals, is heavy on the smear, but light on a real defense. In fact, the link they have going out to a site that is supposed to substantiate the constitutionality readily doubts it:

If the “individual mandate” is struck down, it will be because of Congress imposed it directly, rather than as a condition of states receiving federal funds, and clumsily drafted the penalties for the mandate in way that takes them outside the reach of its tax powers.

Unlike state governments, the federal government does not have a broad power to legislate in any way it sees fit, as long as it does not violate an individual right. Instead, it can only legislate under a power specifically enumerated in the Constitution — such as its broad powers to regulate interstate commerce, spend money for the general welfare, or impose taxes. So while states can (and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in fact does) mandate that individuals buy health insurance as a matter of course, that is not necessarily the case for the federal government.

Ultimately, as I pointed out above, the constitutionality of it is going to be decided by the same 5 justices that just decided that that Corporations have the same political power as persons. So, given that context, the notion of relying on liberals websites like TP is pretty fruitless. Figure out what Scalia thinks and thats' likely what'll be decided.


by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-26 06:38PM | 0 recs

This is a wingnut constitutional theory that hasn't been accepted by the judiciary since Lochner v. New York.  A mandate would easily pass muster as a valid regulation under the Commerce Clause.  People familiar with how this enumerated powers argument has actually fared in federal court aren't really impressed by invocations of the Scalia bogeyman.

Interesting, however, to see "progressives" essentially adopting the argument that the New Deal was unconstitutional.

by JJE 2010-02-27 11:23AM | 1 recs
RE: Uh

You can childishly name-call it whatever you want, but you are not one of the 5 Republican justices deciding what's constitutional.

Also, I don't really think its a "progressive" slander that you intend, more a slander toward Libertarian Democrats is your target. Of course, you'd also probably be fine being in your small tent and back in the minority too.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-27 12:08PM | 0 recs
It's true

I'm not one of the Republican justices deciding what's constitutional.  But nor are you.  The difference between us is that I have a basic understanding of constitutional jurisprudence under the Commerce Clause while you are completely and embarrassingly ignorant on the topic.

But by all means hitch your wagon to a fringe theory that would invalidate most federal legislation since the 1930s.  After all, who cares if it's completely stupid so long as it helps score some points against the administration?  Gotta keep focused on what's important.

by JJE 2010-02-27 11:04PM | 0 recs
RE: It's true

Nah, the difference between us is that you are reduced to name calling.

I've not hitched to anything on the issue. I can conclude the political baggage of the mandate, but don't pretend (unlike others) to devine the constitutional outcome.

Your basic understanding (congrats) is worthless in trying to determine what will happen with those 5 Republicans.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 12:49AM | 0 recs
Name calling?

Because I called it a wingnut constitutional theory?   You're going to whine about that to avoid the fact that you have no idea what you're talking about? Pretty sad.

Go read  Lochner v. New York, Wickard v. Filburn, U.S. v. Lopez, U.S. v. Morrison, and Gonzalezv. Raich.  Then maybe you'lll be able to comment on this subject without embarrassing yourself.

by JJE 2010-02-28 11:10AM | 0 recs
Name calling?

Because I called it a wingnut constitutional theory?   You're going to whine about that to avoid the fact that you have no idea what you're talking about? Pretty sad.

Go read  Lochner v. New York, Wickard v. Filburn, U.S. v. Lopez, U.S. v. Morrison, and Gonzalezv. Raich.  Then maybe you'lll be able to comment on this subject without embarrassing yourself.

by JJE 2010-02-28 11:10AM | 0 recs
RE: Name calling?

lol, I'm sure you whisked off all sorts of "go reads" before the Republican gang decided Corporations had the same political contribution power as people, too.

Ohhh, its wingnutery!  Well guess what fella, its also now the law!

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 07:29PM | 0 recs
Anyone familiar with the case law

Could have predicted how Citizens United would come out, just as anyone familiar with the case law under the Commerce Clause can predict that a mandate would with stand a challenge. 

You, however, appear to know nothing about the Supreme Ccourt beyond the party affiliations of the various justices and are just blathering without any idea what you're talking about.

by JJE 2010-03-01 11:24AM | 0 recs
RE: Anyone familiar with the case law

Really? Can you provide me with a link to your predtion of CU, and also explain to me why you back it?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-01 04:46PM | 0 recs
I don't have a blog

so I've nothing to link you to.   Here's a law professor explaining noting how it was widely expected.

And here he is explaining why: 

And I don't "back it."  Try to read more closely.  I just said it's consistent with precedents.  A bad decision nonetheless consistent with previous bad decisions.

by JJE 2010-03-01 05:19PM | 0 recs
it is NOT 1994 anymore

the real world of health care in this country is a lot worse than it was then and people , MOST people, really do want something more liberal than what has been proposed.  That is what MA senate election was about.

On the verge of success?  Passing this legislation is not only for bragging rights. It is not even close to success.  In fact it is going to stop real reform from happening for another generation and inprove nothing for the vast majority of people.  It doesn't even cover everyone.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:40PM | 0 recs
I live in MA

I'll tell you what the Senate election wasn't about: wanting more liberal healthcare.

MA Residents already have comprehensive healthcare. They don't want to pay for the rest of the country to get what they have. Not to mention Martha Coakley ran the worst campaign I have seen.

Have you even read the bill? There is real reform in there that real people need, including myself.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-26 01:57PM | 0 recs
RE: like hillary or edwards or any other democrat could have advanced...

you have got to be kidding.  Most republicans would have started out to the left of Obama. 

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:37PM | 0 recs
Where Hillary was?

It's kind of hard to harangue the primary candidate who made it to President when the other two or three had nearly identical plans.

You're way too far to the left of where the Democrats' mandate is.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-26 02:02PM | 0 recs
RE: like hillary or edwards or any other democrat could have advanced...

Considering that all of Obama's economic advisors came from the Clinton administration, I find this a bit far-fetched.

by Khun David 2010-02-26 04:13PM | 0 recs
RE: like hillary

Ahem:  How did that work out for Hillarycare? didn't.  Presumably, Bill and Hill possessed those qualities which Clinton derided Obama for lacking, yes?

by lojasmo 2010-02-24 08:25PM | 0 recs
RE: like hillary

I know you are smart enough to list for me three ways in which this is not the same as 1994. Go.....

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:44PM | 0 recs
Bipartisanship for when you're 50-50 or 51-49!

When you give a 50-50 say to a 40-60 minority, you are not using your power on behalf of the people who gave you that majority.

We voted in a large majority, because we understood just how perniciously incompetent and morally bankrupt and despicable the Party of NO is, and what it does to our future as a people.

The President has given them every chance to do the right thing, Charles.  That was the right thing to do.  Now, we cannot afford to wait any longer, and I think the President knows this too.

Let's stop listening to tired tropes from Fixed Noise and Krauthammer about what a failure Obama is, OK?  He has shown the country, indeed the world that you can get things done and you still keep yourself and your party on the high ground.

The only thing Neanderthals like McCotter, Pence, the 2 Kings, Wilson, Bachmann and others have proven is that America is finally seeing these folks for who they are.  They are not patriots, feedom-fighters, or loyal noble opposition:  They are simply desperate dirtbag politicians who long ago sold what little integrity they had for campaign donations to the highest bidder, mostly to the corporations.

Corporate money pays for Teabaggers, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Hume, Kristol, Krauthammer, and every other figure desperate to tear the President down and kill the progressive agenda.

But curiously, America is not buying it.  Gallup's daily tracker has shown us a very stable support level for Obama, and for Democrats.  It's corporate-paid media whores like Rasmussen and FOX who have been succesful in painting the " Obama's in Trouble"  "Obama's Weak"  " Obama's Failing"  pictures.

Let's not fall for them like we were ignorant FOX Republicans, OK?

by dembluestates 2010-02-24 11:12AM | 2 recs

It all comes back to the fact that Obama did not understand he was in a very partisan moment. Clinton was the partisan candidate. And to top it off, we had some of the most partisan Dems around back Obama because of their hatred of Clinton. Some of that justified, over her vote for Iraq, although with Obama's surge into Afghanistan, even that distinction now looks ill-suited.

Anyway, the news today is that its time for Obama to begin to think about 2012. What fun.

So we've settled the question of what Obama stands for: re-election.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-24 12:02PM | 3 recs

If this wasn't the mating call of a bitter PUMA, I don't know what is.



by ND22 2010-02-24 12:15PM | 1 recs
RE: Wow

I think I'm gonna change your name to PUMA boy. You  are like a Republican that is a closted gay that obsesses over homosexuals.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 03:58PM | 0 recs
could you possibly be

anymore premature you has been.

by ND22 2010-02-28 12:42AM | 0 recs

I have told you several times how reading CTG was a seminal moment in my life, and how I looked up to you and to Markos, and how I do respect you for influencing my view of politics. CTG helped me through a very dark political time, and it is an honor to be here with you.

But ever since I came here, I could never understand the irrational refusal to cut Obama some slack. When he succeeded, you were siltent. But when Obama made a misstep, you were present. Fair enough. You could argue that there are plenty of Obama cheerleaders and the world doesn't need one more.

But on top of that, there was always a bitter undertone, just beneath the surface. Sentances could be read two ways, and I always felt one was a dog whistle to the PUMA crowd; mocking the Obama slogans, etc.

Then this.

You're still bitter over the primary?!? My G0d, man, that was resolved 18 months ago! How can anything you say be taken seriously? You know full well why Hillary Clinton lost. It would be like me sitting around in MA feeling Scott Brown stole the election from Martha Cokaley.

But all this will fall on deaf ears. I am so disappointed.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 02:18PM | 1 recs
RE: Embarssing

I think you need to put down the koolaid and rejoin reality. Sorry to be so blunt but the time to give the President the benefit of the doubt is over. He gave away the public option to appease  for profit hospitals and drug companies LAST summer and as far as I am concerned that makes him no different than Bush. 

by Jason Moreland 2010-02-24 05:29PM | 3 recs
No PO = Bush?

Wow. I have heard some stupid things on the Internet, but comparing Obama to Bush simply because he doesn't want to include the stupid, silly, measely little public option is the most retarded one I've heard to date. I'm copying this one down for the MyDD hall of fame. Usually it's Kent who blurts out the nonsense. As for the PO:

a) it can always be created later. Did you read somewhere that this will be the last and final effort on healthcare reform? You do know it can be added any time?

b) The PO would have cost more than private insurance as per the CBO

c) we already have a government run, efficient healthcare program. Providing expanded access to that one (you know, the one called Medicaid) is far wiser.

So explain to me again why not getting your pony makes Obama Bush?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 05:45PM | 1 recs
RE: No PO = Bush?

I was actually speaking of negotiating with the insurance,hospital and drug companies before the bill even had a chance to be written or VOTED on by members of congress. He lied about supporting the public option and has been doing so since 2008 when it's been proven  he explicitly promised the health lobby it would not come to a vote or even be in the final bill. That's called dishonestly and going against what your constituency wants, it's something the Bush administration did often and comparison applies here in this regard. I highly suggest you read the article below before you start spouting nonsense at me or anyone else for that matter.


I also suggest you read the commentary below on the DOMA brief filed by the White House. It's certainly revealing and should inform you why President Obama is not to be trusted or given the benefit of the doubt any longer.


I've pulled these two articles just to give you a taste of where a lot of the frustration comes from and why. What you choose to do with it is up to you but blaming PUMAs or insulting fellow democrats is simply below the pail. Stop acting like a damn Obamabot and act like a Democrat with a capital D, he's not the one you though he was. Deal with it and stop projecting on the rest of us who are serious about policy and results and not just your little Obama popularity contest.

by Jason Moreland 2010-02-24 06:26PM | 3 recs
RE: No PO = Bush?

Don't waste your time. I kind of ignore him. It's difficult to discuss policy with immature people.

by tarheel74 2010-02-24 06:57PM | 0 recs
RE: No PO = Bush?

wow, that article on Obama's undermining of the PO is pretty damning.

I challenge nofortunateson, Vecky or any other person who keeps claiming that the president has been a supporter of the PO to read it.

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 07:10PM | 0 recs
Can you tell the difference between the sun and the moon?

First, I'm sorry Dennis Kucinich didn't win the democratic primary. I agree with the policies of Kucinich far more than Obama, but Obama was the choice of Democrats and he is our President.

And a President not delivering on a campaign promise? Oh newsflash here. Your charge of failure rings especially hollow because Obama has delivered on so many of his promises, and you cannot provie to me that a PO will not pass in the future. I'm really inclined to respond to overwrought hatred with: so what?

And you never answered my question as to what the big deal over the PO really is, when it can be added later, is going to be more expensive than private insurance, and will cover so few? Please, tell me why the PO is live or die important? Also, please tell me why as a democrat I should be

I read your Huff 'n Puff link. You are smart enough to realize that the story is based on speculation and comnspiracy theory. Please point to the hard evidence, for it eludes me.

And let's concede the point that the current healthcare reform bill is a result of negotiations with private industry. Again: so what? If Obama didn't negotiate, we'd be int he same place as Dennis Kucinich right now. We'd have nothing. There is real reform in that bill that people such as myself desperately need. So don't tell me there's no good in that bill.

Second, there's no difference ebtween Obama and Bush? Where have I heard that before. I'm old enough to have been alive in 2000, and I remember the Naderite ilk making the exact same claim. I'm sure you said the same thing in 2000. Now tell me there is no difference between Gore and Bush. Look where that naderism got us.

You've got to stop believing everything you read on the Internet.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 07:11PM | 0 recs
RE: Can you tell the difference between the sun and the moon?

so you didn't even touch on the substance of the link.

Instead, you knocked down a bunch of straw men, and then said the link was just a "conspiracy theory"

So, you don't trust the NY Times, the quotes from the White House, Democratic senators, the President's own actions, etc?

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 07:20PM | 1 recs
Barack Obama kills puppies

I do trust all of those, but point to the actual part of the article where the proof is that Obama conspired to kill the public option.

You won't be able to.

The Huffington Post, yellow journalism at its lowest and worst, simply uses a series of name drops, guilt by association, and conjectures, plus a timeline from the queen firebagger herself of Liar Blog Fake to theorize that Obama cosnpired to kill the PO because of some back room deal.

The truth is, there is no such evidence. But go back to the article and try to find it. Find the actual admission. I challenge you.

You people do realize that you're being used. Your anti-Obama sentiment is being whipped into a frenzy by such yellow journalism to deliver page clicks and profits.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 09:32PM | 0 recs
RE: Barack Obama kills puppies

you keep saying that there's no "proof" or "hard evidence"

1) what would you consider to be "hard evidence"

2) would you agree to a "preponderance of the evidence" standard?  And would circumstantial evidence suit you (hey, they use it in court)

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 10:10PM | 0 recs
RE: Barack Obama kills puppies

C'mon dude you should know better than to say these things!!

by tarheel74 2010-02-24 10:22PM | 0 recs
RE: Barack Obama kills puppies

yeah. I think we all knew that he wouldn't give a straightforward, on-topic response.

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 01:11PM | 0 recs
You see, it's just yellow journalism at it's finest

Barack Obama isn't on trial.

Yes, they amass circumstantial evidence, some from dubious sources like the queen firebagger herself, but what do you make of this?

Harkin: It Ain't Happenin'

In an interview with Salon, Sen. Harkin (D-IA) pretty much said the Public Option just ain't going to be in this bill. Not exactly closing the door or saying it can't happen. But he clearly doesn't think it's likely and expects it will have to wait for a subsequent piece of legislation.

Is Tom Harkin (progressive rating of 58) in on the conspiracy? Did Rahm Emanuel get to him?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 11:46PM | 0 recs
RE: You see, it's just yellow journalism at it's finest

Sure he is - in the court of public opinion.

I'm trying to lay the groundwork for the terms that we agree the evidence should be judged by.

But I'm not surprised you wouldn't answer my questions.

You probably smell a trap, because you know that a sober examination of the evidence will show that Obama most likely hasn't been trying to get the public option.

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 02:03AM | 0 recs
RE: You see, it's just yellow journalism at it's finest

He never was. As early as last June, his legal advisors were drafting regulations for the insurance industry within the framework of a health care system designed around Commonwealth care in MA. But he still paid lip service to this idea and indeed misled a whole lot of people. That is what I find shameful.

by tarheel74 2010-02-25 10:01AM | 0 recs
Answer what questions?

You either have proof or you don't. And you don't.

And now I give you that statement by Tom Harkin (progressive score 58) saying the PO will have to wait to later. Is he in on the conspiracy?

No, the article doesn't meet any of those standards. It's just yellow journalism for the minority anti-Obama left crowd.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 01:12PM | 0 recs
RE: Answer what questions?

I will detail the list of the evidence once you agree to the ground rules like the standard by which the evidence will be judged.

I am not talking just about that article.

So will you please answer the damn questions?

You are trying to get out of answering my questions by 1) dismissing them out of hand with a straw man argument, and 2) asking a different question.

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 01:20PM | 0 recs
What is the question you're asking?

Just say it. I thought I already answered it, but just say it again for clarity.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 01:30PM | 0 recs
RE: What is the question you're asking?

you keep saying that there's no "proof" or "hard evidence"

1) what would you consider to be "hard evidence"

2) would you agree to a "preponderance of the evidence" standard? 

And would circumstantial evidence suit you (hey, they use it in court)

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 02:17PM | 0 recs

1. A quote from the accused making a confession of guilt, explicit or implicit.

2. A quote from a legitimate news source (with a named source) corroborated by another legitimate news source (also with a named source). No unnamed sources. The parties must have no vested interest inattacking/supporting the accused.

That's all.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 05:29PM | 0 recs
RE: Okay

wait, who in Washington would have no interest in attacking/supporting somebody like the President?

It seems to come down to you rejecting any and all evidence except for an outright admission.

Do you hold all politicians to that standard?

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 11:19PM | 0 recs
RE: You see, it's just yellow journalism at it's finest

just because Tom Harkin says it ain't gonna happen doesn't mean it shouldn't happen, or that he doesn't think it should happen.

But he is wrong, there will be no subsequent piece of legislation and I think he knows that.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 02:03PM | 0 recs
Here's a tissue for your tears

Seriously, the pessimism is completely unsubstantiated by fact.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-26 04:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Barack Obama kills puppies

You people do realize that you're being used. Your anti-Obama sentiment is being whipped into a frenzy by such yellow journalism to deliver page clicks and profits.

This site isn't about making money in presenting opinion. I'm not sure where you developed this conspiracy, but its really lame.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 03:55PM | 0 recs
Funny, I didn't mention this site by name

I was talking about the Huffington Post, which has been accused of yellow journalism back to (at least) the primary in their treatment of Hillary Clinton. 

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 05:31PM | 0 recs
RE: Funny, I didn't mention this site by name

OK, I take that back, and am in agreement with you on that analysis. The partisan-for-profit model that blogging has went to there sucks. But still, there are some really good things posted there, and that's to be noted.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 07:13PM | 0 recs

I dont read the Huffington post, but that article was interesting.  

by Ravi Verma 2010-02-24 07:51PM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks

Huff Post has been on the money on many things. They broke the story of the WH PhRMA deal, they broke the story of the WH pressuring Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman, they broke the cornhusker kickback deal and they also broke this story.

by tarheel74 2010-02-24 07:56PM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks

They may have been on the money on all those instances.  But I stopped reading them because of the way they conducted themselves during the primaries !! 

by Ravi Verma 2010-02-25 12:00AM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks

I kind of left the primaries behind 2 years ago, the problems are too big and we were told that there would be change we can believe in and bold ideas. Unfortunately the change turned out to be chump change. The Democratic party, (in fact both parties) and indeed the entire government, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street.

by tarheel74 2010-02-25 09:58AM | 0 recs
It's an interesting... theory.

I won't give Ms. Huff 'n Puff my business. It is a theory. It may be true. But as you see in the article. There is no hard evidence.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 09:32PM | 0 recs
A theory ?

It is your right to view it as a theory.  It is also your right to point out that there is no hard evidence.  

But then, perhaps it is useful to remember that there is no hard evidence for a lot of things that everyone (presumably including you) believe in !!

by Ravi Verma 2010-02-24 11:59PM | 0 recs
RE: A theory ?

You're sounding like a global warming denier: "Sure, I don't believe global warming is man made, I believe it's sunspots (or whatever), even though there's no hard evidence, and all the evidence points to the contrary"

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 01:14PM | 0 recs
Funny you say that

Because it is you that sounds like a global warming denier.  "There is no hard evidence" is your line... my response was a mockumentary, if you will.


And for the record,  I happen to believe in global warming (as I presume, you do as well) even though there is no "hard evidence" for it

by Ravi Verma 2010-02-25 07:36PM | 0 recs
RE: Embarssing

It sounds to me like your the one that is bitter and embarrased that you might have to confront the reality that your icon is not what you thought it was. The rest of us are dealing with the reality already.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 03:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Embarssing

well, in fairness, letting go of a favored icon can be a very difficult thing to do


by jeopardy 2010-02-25 04:07PM | 0 recs
RE: Embarssing

Yea. I really like the political viewpoint, especially when it challenges my own thinking. You can come here and get mad, but really, for what reason?  It's much better to get challenged, and either respond factually or change your opinion, or sit on it.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-25 04:25PM | 0 recs
What did I think my idol was?

I'm really, really curious what you think I thought Barack Obama was.

And can politicians be liked? adored? idolized? Despite their faults and mistakes? Is that wrong?

Or should we be in a perpetual state of disapointment regardless of who the politician is?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-25 05:34PM | 0 recs

because he said Obama was his icon

God you're pathetic. It's hilarous Jerome, really.

by ND22 2010-02-28 12:51AM | 0 recs
RE: Icon?

You are quite obsesses here Nick? What's the deal?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-02-28 12:56AM | 0 recs

the fuck is Nick?

by ND22 2010-03-01 11:26PM | 0 recs
RE: partisanship

anyone who is pissed over her vote on IWR should go look at her address to the senate.  It was not approval for war.  In fact it was the only sensible position if there was any hope of stopping bush.. who did not need congresional approval anyway.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 01:46PM | 0 recs
Voting to give Bush approval to go to war

was the only sensible position to stop him? Wow, either you're bad at spinning and Hillary Clinton was perhaps too stupid to be a Senator and we dodged a bullet.




by ND22 2010-02-28 12:50AM | 0 recs
I think

that you have hit the nail on it's head.  I also wish that it is the only nail that needs to be hit on the head ~ I suspect it is not !!

by Ravi Verma 2010-02-24 12:29PM | 0 recs
I don't get it at all

I've been a critic of the bipartisanship schtick with mind-numbing regularity.  Like Barney Frank, I long ago succumbed to post-partisan depression.  But why the heck would anyone raise this criticism in the context of the upcoming health care summit - the tactic which appears to be our one and only hope of getting a health care bill passed at all?!?

Seemingly everyone agrees that one of the President's best moments in office was his appearance at the GOP congressional retreat where he engaged them directly and took them to school.  It's obvious that the health care summit is born of the same brand of "bipartisanship" - get the other party up on stage with you and let the public see that they aren't there in good faith and don't have any arguments on the merits.

Maybe achieving moments like this isn't worth all the sacrifices that get made along the way in the name of bipartisanship, but one thing is clear: you don't get to expose the other party in this manner if the public doesn't perceive you as coming from a position of good faith yourself.  We've seen the Republicans call this a trap and try to wriggle off the hook for the last week.  Fortunately, the public isn't buying it, and I submit the reason they aren't buying it is that Obama has put so much effort into establishing his rep as a good-faith bargainer.  So this is not the time to complain about the post-partisan unity schtick.  If HCR is a big failure in spite of the summit and the Democrats get slaughtered in November and all that, we can all resume our complaining - but why not pause for now and see if just this one time, the whole bipartisanship routine actually pays dividends?

Look, I am as frustrated as anyone by a country that says they want bipartisanship but then insists on rewarding the party that does everything it can to frustrate bipartisanship.  The approach I preferred wasn't Obama's, and I think I made that pretty clear.  But once he was the candidate, I figured "well, nothing else is working anyway, might as well give this a shot and see how it goes."  I understand why some people are ready to render a verdict already, but I think the jury is still out to a greater extent than we think - and this is our President until 2012 and probably beyond, so why waste time demanding that he reinvent his whole political persona?  If it doesn't work, maybe next time everyone will agree to try things my way, but here's the dirty little secret: my way might work out just as badly!  You never really know.

by Steve M 2010-02-24 01:30PM | 2 recs
RE: I don't get it at all

Everything was wrong from the very beginning. The only thing I can say about this summit now, is that it's too little too late. By any metrics, the current bill (without a PO, or for that matter adequate cost control measures) is vastly unpopular in the country. The Democrats up for election have to take a huge gamble on passing this bill in an election year. IMO the house had passed as excellent bill which got no support from the administration and died in the senate. The senate bill is unlikely to pass the house. Ruth Marcus crunched the numbers today and it looks bleak. On the senate front some of the main culprits credited with this awful senate bill are doubling down against any reconciliation unless the house passes the Senate bill verbatim.

In the end this summit is just for show. The problem with HCR legislation was lack of leadership. The Democrats were haggling and negotiating against themselves from the beginning without a steward to guide them, while holding out for a bipartisan bill to emerge. None of that happened or is likely to happen, and frankly it does matter because the WH, Senate and the House are not even on the same page.

by tarheel74 2010-02-24 01:44PM | 1 recs
RE: I don't get it at all

Well, there's you who says the bill is vastly unpopular, and there's the latest Kaiser poll which shows support is split exactly evenly, 43% to 43%.  And of course there's the mountain of polling that shows many of the individual reforms are viewed favorably, some extremely favorably.  So when you start sound like Eric Cantor by telling me how the public has resoundingly rejected this bill, I have to push back a little bit.

I don't mind the criticisms of how the process was handled from the beginning, many of which I share.  What baffles me is the point of raising these criticisms in the context of the health care summit, which strikes me as not only the best move at our current juncture, but probably the only move.

by Steve M 2010-02-24 01:56PM | 1 recs
RE: I don't get it at all

While I agree that the unpopularity of the bill is being oversold in general, I also think that the "many of the individual components are popular" argument is pretty worthless.

Many of the individual components are unpopular as well (see "mandate"), so it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that the entire bill is or should be popular because parts of it are popular. You can't just look at the popular parts and forget about the unpopular parts.

I agree with you re: the health care summit though. This sort of thing should be where Obama is at his best.

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 02:18PM | 0 recs
RE: I don't get it at all

I had a interesting back and forth with one of the resident conservatives here regarding this very same thing. I am all for a HCR bill with the most popular parts intact (i.e. the House bill), which over and above everything else includes a PO. But as a rebuttal to the assertion made by this resident con, who believes that the PO is actually unpopular, I went throught something around 20 or more different polls since last December. Barring a few that did ask about the PO and still found it to be overwhelmingly popular, nearly all polls found the current bill to be unpopular (here's the link, I really don't want to do the whole research again, but feel free to cross check what I said). The parts that are particularly popular (e.g. PO, employer mandate, generous assistance) have either been stripped from the senate bill or have been curtailed. Yet some of the most unpopular items (e.g. the so-called cadillac tax) have found their way to the bill. Which just means that the senate bill as it now stands is an unpopular bill. There is only one way around it and that is to include some of the more popular items in it (which incidentally have been left out due to corporate lobbying and backroom deals).

All this however still does not absolve the WH, or the administration in general, from coming out more forcefully for the House bill to begin with, which suffered from such salacious rumors like "death panels" spread by so-called Republican allies like Obama's "good friend" Chuck Grassley. In the end being asleep at the wheels, or for that matter not anticipating the overwhelming opposition, and not having a plan B is not an excuse when the goal is so vast and ambitious.

by tarheel74 2010-02-24 02:32PM | 0 recs
The healthcare bill is popular.

Read here and here. Both are from the past week. To claim that the bill is unpopular is to be pumatarded.

Also, they wouldn;t go into this negotiation if they didn't have 50 votes. Eff Confrad.

So what else was it you were complaining about?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 02:26PM | 1 recs
RE: The healthcare bill is popular.

Why are we discussing dates and popularity? Are we in High School?

by QTG 2010-02-24 02:31PM | 0 recs
RE: The healthcare bill is popular.

While I agree that the unpopularity of the bill is being oversold in general, I also think that the "many of the individual components are popular" argument that your links use is pretty worthless.

Many of the individual components are unpopular as well (see "mandate without the PO"), so it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that the entire bill is or should be popular because parts of it are popular. You can't just look at the popular parts and forget about the unpopular parts.

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 07:48PM | 0 recs
Mandate = 1 Component

The poll clearly shows half a dozen other popular features. So that's like 6 to 1.

I agree that a mandate without a non-profit or open competetive alternative is bad.

But I also realize that it can easily be remedied later and that we shouldn't gloss over the good points or lose sight of the multistep process.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 09:25PM | 0 recs
RE: Mandate = 1 Component

well I stated one example, but there are others:

the excise tax on health plans; the cornhustker kickback; the abortion restrictions; lieberman's bribes, etc...


by jeopardy 2010-02-24 10:13PM | 0 recs
They're all gone.

They're all gone with the fix package. You know that. Except for the excise tax, which has been altered.

There is no way anything would pass with those unpopular provisions. The provisions as they stand now are in an unpassed bill, so focussing on those items is poitnless. The focus should be on the items in the final product.

It was disgusting of Nelson and Lieberman to hold this process hostage like that. Lieberman is the most vile and cretinous of them all.

And Obama should have known that by setting 60 votes as the bar and only having maybe 55 good democrats at best, the inevitible would happen. The closer you got to 60, the more the process could be held hostage. Yes, Obama was wrong, in hindsight, to set the bar at 60, and yes he was naive. But that is water under the bridge at this point.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-24 11:33PM | 0 recs
RE: They're all gone.

I don't know what's gone and what's not. I have not gotten a chance to examine it in the few days since it's been out.

But I was referring to the bill's popularity before Obama's bill. I am not aware of any new info about its popularity now. Maybe it will get more popular if the bill is actually improved (what a crazy concept!)

by jeopardy 2010-02-25 02:07AM | 0 recs
RE: I don't get it at all

There is really no evidence that the public doesn't buy the argument that it is a trap , or a show , or whatever fits ,  infact I would be willing to bet the public would believe its all for PR and nothing would come of it....Obama is still getting more credit than the GOP for being more bipartisan but it isn't that overwhelming of an advantage like it used to be .

by lori 2010-02-24 02:43PM | 0 recs
"It is not that I bemoan the President's good-heartedness"

I'd feel a lot more sure of the President's good-heartedness if he hadn't sided repeatedly with Wall Street over Main Street, hadn't argued to continue to spy on Americans and even assassinate them, and didn't permit torture to continue at Bagram.  Since he's done all of those things (and more!), it seems the only people the President is good-hearted towards are Republicans.  Funny that.

by BDB 2010-02-24 09:32PM | 1 recs
Yup, Hillary got it, and Obama needs to get it

She knew these esteemed colleagues were hyper-partisan and irresponsible.  It's why I voted for her in the primary.  She's tough and knows a fight when she sees one.

A community organizer should also know about fighting.  Community organizing isn't just about building bridges; it's about identifying objectives and opponents, and mobilizing forces to overcome opponents, sometimes by just plain beating them.


by Thaddeus 2010-02-24 10:02PM | 1 recs
RE: Yup, Hillary got it, and Obama needs to get it

if Obama was operating in the same way he did during the primary and general election, or with Iran, for instance, it could work.

I mean using the carrot at first and for a while, until the other side looks bad, and THEN break out the stick and start whacking away.

But he's not doing it with HCR. In fact, the most we've seen of the sticks when it comes to HCR has been on people like Howard Dean.

But with the GOP, for instance, it's mostly "I've worked with them on such and such issue, and included their great ideas in the Stimulus and HCR bills." Hard to say that the GOP is obstructing and that they have no ideas when you keep mentioning how you've worked with them on issues and stuck their ideas into your bills.

by jeopardy 2010-02-24 10:17PM | 1 recs
This Hillary Video and

"Change you can xerox"


"If you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl"

were my 3 favorites of the 08 primary....

I also enjoyed Obama's

"she's talking like she's Annie Oakley, like she's out on a duck blind every Sunday packing a six shooter"......that was funny too.

Ohhhhh I miss the simple days .... when O'bambi was filled with hope and change and the Fighter kept going like Rocky Balboa.....

now we just have crap and more crap from the vast right wing conspiracy.





by nikkid 2010-02-25 02:20AM | 0 recs
Like Gov. Patrick, Like Pres. Obama?

Like Patrick, Like Obama?  Governor Patrick and President Obama both gave speeches within days of Republican Scott Brown's victory over Democrat Martha Coakley.  Both Patrick and Obama performed well, acknowledged Coakley's loss, the shortcomings in their efforts, admonishing their political opponents and the frustrated public to be engaged in the process and contribute to solutions.  Still, the obstacles to their leadership remain and their political prospects are in question.

Although Patrick and Obama both have partisan majorities in their legislatures, both leaders are frustrated by inertia and the status quo within their party.  Obama also confronts an aggressive Republican opposition.  But something is missing.

Neither Patrick nor Obama have an effective strategy to drive their agenda and preserve the active support of their new voters, voters who are the "value-added" to Democratic political capital.  Neither has governed with or for their base.  Gov. Patrick relinquished the support of his activist base, and dismissed the counsel of insiders from previous Democratic administrations.  As President, Obama adopted the tired leadership strategies of Clinton and Carter, Democratic presidents who each governed under very different circumstances than we find today.  

Nothing better exemplifies this situation for Gov. Patrick than the tension with leaders from the African American community.  The Governor has not been able to squarely address their community and political needs within his framework of "change."  Likewise, Obama doesn't want to be too closely linked to the Congressional Black Caucus, and he actively resists any strategic partnering with progressives in the House and Senate.   Liberals and independents are drifting from Democratic leadership, unhappy with the lack of tangible changes that address the stark inequalities of wealth and power that undermine our confidence in government and politics.  Both President Obama and Gov. Patrick are left governing without the engaged support of their once active constituencies.  

Even "the bluest state," conservative attitudes among voters and Democratic politicians toward taxes, toward inequality of incomes and opportunity, have stymied the leadership of Governor Patrick.  His message of change has focused largely on state government and the legislature, where change is certainly much needed.  But, like Obama, he has not challenged the role of greedy corporate and financial executives here in our state who have enriched themselves at the expense of the broad majority.  His proposals to date have not included measures that would do so, such as a wealth tax to fund needed public programs.   Despite advancing important policies, Gov. Patrick has lost the active support of his base and disappointed new voters. Both Democratic leaders and politics are still out of step with the people and the times, and they need to do a better job catching up and connecting with new and working class voters.

The Democratic Party is challenged, here in Massachusetts and nationally, by the demands of our times, by enforcers of the status quo, and by their own assumptions of leadership.   To make significant change, Democrats need a progressive majority and a progressive majority is built and sustained by reaching out to new voters and emerging constituencies and governing for and with them. These are the people that will sustain progressive leaders and support real change.

The moral of the story?  Democrats-change thyself.  Recruit new voters, deliver for your base and keep your supporters engaged.  Challenge class privilege, power and the stark inequality that undermines our confidence in government and political leadership.  Call out conservatism for its falsehoods and failures and help Americans get beyond it.  Change Dems, change!. 

by Fogie 2010-02-25 12:45PM | 0 recs
RE: Like Gov. Patrick, Like Pres. Obama?

but did they give the exact same speech?  they have been known to do that.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-02-26 02:14PM | 0 recs

They moved slow, and wanted "bi-partisanship". When you are in charge you need to govern. Well this "bi-partisanship" allowed the Republicans to usurp the debate and turn what was once a popular goal into a half-assed dog fight. We could have used reconciliation from the very beginning. Obama stop talking already and govern, same goes for Reid, what incompetence. We have squandered our large majorities that may not exist next year, for what? I'm all for bipartisanship when it gets results. We are in gridlock, and nothing is getting done, especially goals promised in the campaign.

by NJDEM1 2010-02-25 11:35PM | 0 recs
While replaying Hillary's campaign rhetoric is just regurtitation of the same old sour grapes...

Obama has been either foolish or corrupt in his kowtowing to Republicant political assassins as well as Demoblican corporate stooges.

by masswaster 2010-02-28 04:06PM | 0 recs


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