So, since yesterday, we've heard administration officials running around, telling everyone that the 'public option' is still 'in', though there are no less than 5 drafts of the reform bill circulating through the House and Senate. It sounds, to me, that they are trying to keep progressives behind the 'reform' initiative until House/Senate reconciliation of the bill, whereupon it will be tossed aside like yesterday's trash. I don't give a shit anymore.
The way this health care initiative has been handled was fucked up from the beginning, taking 'single-payer' off the table from the get go - like the Army going to war and announcing they're going to win it without the field artillery and armor (more like the Army going to war with the goal of "winning hearts and minds" before the first bullet flew). Krugman puts his finger on it:
Partly it’s a matter of style — as many people have noted, he has been weirdly reluctant to make the moral case for universal care, weirdly unable to show passion on the issue, weirdly diffident even about the blatant lies from the right. Partly it’s a spillover from his other policies: by appointing an economic team that’s Rubin redux, by taking such a kindly attitude to the banks, he has squandered a lot of progressive enthusiasm.
Add in the dealmaking as part of the health care process itself, and progressives can be forgiven for having the impression that Obama (a) takes them for granted (b) is way too easily rolled by the other side.
As I said the other day, the campaign of "hope and change" that we all supported, that we all welcomed after 8 years of the Bush/Cheney corporate free-for-all, has become "business-as-usual". The limp, insipid leadership from the White House on an issue so important to a huge chunk of the American people makes you wish, as Kieth Olbermann put it last night, "for a little more of George Bush's certitude".
And, speaking of the past 8 years, you'd think they all would have learned something of the Republican modus operandi. My knee jerk reaction is "how can they be so naive" to not understand the nature of the bullshit thrown at them from the Right. It's as if they thought we would all join hands and pass something that was actually good for the American people whether they knew it or not. But I can't believe that in the end. Obama is, without argument, an intelligent man so I have to think he and his advisers knew what was coming. I did, Gordon did, and a couple thousand other bloggers did too. Most of us aren't political 'insiders' yet we got it and, from what we were promised during the campaign, we expected a champion to rise above the noise and dirty tricks from the Right, especially with majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead we got what, representatives scared of their own shadows and a White House that gets blown around by the constantly shifting political winds? Any real reform we could hope for has gone the way of 'banking reform' and what we'll get, if anything, will be a load of watery shit that offers no relief, only a burning sphincter.
The uninsured in this country will continue to live on the edge, wondering when a family member will get sick enough to ruin them. I, like Members of Congress and the news media, have good insurance that I can afford to pay for but that could change in an instant, as it can for 90% of us who are fortunate enough to be able to buy into 'the system'. It is the crux of the biscuit and why so many experts say the health care system cannot go on in its present form. It is why the call for reform is so strong, because so many people are hanging on with their fingertips. To let them fall over the edge is unconscionable but that is what probably will happen once the dust finally settles on this mess. I wonder, with all the deal-making going on, all the 'negotiations' behind closed doors, if anybody gives the un- and under-insured a passing thought anymore. They were thrown under the bus in favor of special interests months ago.
So I could give a shit less at this point. Whatever squirts out of the national sphincter will be less than what is needed and many will be left behind. It seems a foregone conclusion at this point, though I hope I'm wrong. Until the President stands up and provides the magnitude of leadership required to do the right thing, I can't get worked up over 'co-ops' and 'public options', and whether they're 'in' or 'out'. If a half-assed, watered down, gift to the insurance companies ends up on Mr. Obama's desk, I would hope he does the right thing and vetoes it. Somehow, I don't see that happening either.
What should be done, is scrapping whatever has been done so far and the White House should write a bill. It should then be given to Congress with a message to the Dems to "vote it down at your own political peril". That is what leadership looks like. Kissing the collective ass of people who would never support anything is a waste of time and a sign of weakness. Take heed, Mr. Obama or you just might be a one-term President. I mean, coming off this fiasco, you really don't expect to have a majority in Congress after the 2010 elections, do you?