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Posted by on Feb 4, 2010 in Health, Politics | 31 comments

Is Obama’s Leadership Now Lacking In Health Care Reform Push?


The question of the day now becomes: despite officials statements, is President Barack Obama’s actual leadership role in efforts to salvage health care reform lacking? According to a report by The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein it is:

Despite urging Democratic senators on Wednesday to forge ahead on health care reform, President Obama and his aides have been largely hands-off in guiding the legislative process, Senate aides tell the Huffington Post. And on Thursday a leading Senate progressive called out the White House publicly for abandoning the leadership role that is needed to get legislation passed.

“The president was weighing in pretty heavily on the discussions between the House and Senate before the Massachusetts special [Senate] election,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told Huffington Post. “It’s dried up since.”

“I think the president needs to work out with House Democrats and leaders in the Senate what we’ve got to do in reconciliation and what we can pass in reconciliation,” Brown added. “And I think we can do a lot. I’m not a minimalist here, that we just do the minimum, do the little bit that’s required. I think we can do some significant improvements on the Senate bill. We need to because House members are not exactly trusting of the Senate these days,

Brown’s lament was echoed in conversations with several high-ranking Senate aides this past week, many of whom agreed that the administration’s involvement in health care negotiations has declined since Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race. Part of the toned-down engagement seems tactical. The main hurdle to getting reform passed is an absence of conviction among House Democratic lawmakers that the Senate will amend their bill using reconciliation. And it’s debatable how much the president can do to generate that trust.

The first year of the Obama administration, Obama’s push to do something on what is clearly now established as the politically suicidal mission of trying to reform health care when such efforts run into a buzzsaw of political partisan and industry opposition, and Democrats in Congress acting as if they had all the time in the world to pass a bill will surely go down in political history as a lost opportunity.

Obama and the Democrats made a decision that rather than make the main message of 2009 jobs jobs jobs they would expend political capital to enact health care reform — and they wanted to do it in the worst possible way.

They partially succeeded:

They expended political capital.

And they did it in the worst possible way.

It seems that now the goal seems to be to avoid expending political capital — which, if done ham-handily could be in the worst possible way, too…

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  • DLS

    Patience, patience!

    Reality check: How does Obama compare with Reid and Pelosi?

  • Axel Edgren

    SO: Either stand by the bill twice (letting republicans call you a socialist), thus seizing a once-in-a-generation chance to get a HC bill that *only* has been tainted by some left-wing corporatists (you take what you get) and save thousands from unnecessary deaths and tens of thousands from bankruptcies… Or stand by the bill once (letting republicans call you a socialist) and hope that this impresses the holy independents to the point where this counter-weighs the disgust and apathy of democrat voters.

    I think the answer is pretty clear, but then again my career doesn’t depend on lobbyists… Wait a second, not even the lobbyists can save them from the apathy of the base!

    So I guess it’s just out of the magnanimity of their hearts that the blue dogs and Stupak’s little god-botherers stand against the socialism and far-leftism of the evil reform bill in the end. Yeah, they’ll sure be rewarded for that by people like DaMav or DLS, right?

    I think the worrywart democrats have cancer of the soul. There can be no other explanation.

    • Schadenfreude_lives

      Axel –

      You commented a while ago about at one time having considering moving to America, but decided not to. So it seems you may never have lived in America at all. Is that true? And are you an American citizen?

      • Axel Edgren

        Never lived, never will.

        And I still know more about what ails your country and what is best for it.

        • Schadenfreude_lives

          And what country are you a citizen of, if you don’t mind me asking?

          • Axel Edgren

            The parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy of Sweden, of course.

            We’re much more boring than you, which is such a blessing.

          • vey9

            There are people I have met here in America that spent years in Swedish prisons because they didn’t disclose EVERYTHING about their business.

            Don’t you think that is a bit unfair?

          • Axel Edgren

            A person who once was in prison claiming innocence and unfair treatment.

            Let me just valiantly try to scoop my lower jaw of the floor before I respond.


          • dduck12

            We’re much more boring than you, which is such a blessing.”

            But sometimes it isn’t much of a blessing to those listening to some of your more convoluted rantings.
            (Although, kernels of truth do filter through sometimes when the smoke clears.)

          • Schadenfreude_lives

            Thank you. Now I think I know why you are such an angry, bitter person, lashing out at things that have absolutely no meaning for you, and that you have no direct experience with.

            You are one of these:


          • Axel Edgren

            Trolls intentionally try to rile people and simplify or make uglier their expressions in order to do so. It is possible to pick apart what I say, and hold me accountable. A troll’s statement is designed only to be affronting to certain people – there is no falsifiability.

            I am merely honest and often provide an outline of my path of thinking, and it’s completely up to others to decide whether I am at fault, or if you merely have thin skin.

            I know it must feel as if you have a modicum of control or stability when you try to dictate who is a troll or not, but you fail at this exercise.

        • vey9

          Sometimes it takes an outsider to make things plain.
          I like to listen to the BBC Americana and BBC Documentaries radio shows about America on BBC Radio 4.
          There, you will hear American people trying to explain the insanity to outsiders,
          It’s a hoot.

  • DaMav

    Does the Democrat leadership have even a clue about what they are doing? It’s become increasingly doubtful.

    The cartoon is hilarious. In the next pane, the damsel jumps out of the dragon’s mouth, kisses the elephant gratefully, and votes it into office while the “Progressive” dragon devours itself. The donkey head is left hanging on a tree as a warning to any who would sell damsels to dragons.

    • Axel Edgren

      Then 45000 people in the damsel’s kingdom die because of HC system related flaws that could be solved. Many more file for bankruptcy. The damsel has to pay for all of that in the end with a weaker economy while the elephant shrugs and thumps his armrest – that’s what she gets for kicking the can down the road, the lazy chit.

    • ProfElwood

      Later, we find out that both the donkey and elephant sold the damsel to the dragon in the first place.

      • DaMav

        Later, we find out that both the donkey and elephant sold the damsel to the dragon in the first place.
        don’t give away the plot. We don’t find that out until the 4th panel 😉

  • vey9

    Whatever we end up with now will be worse than what we started with.
    It will cost the people and the government more than it is worth.
    Obama extended the VA benefits to all veterans, a system I will soon be using.

  • DLS

    Brown has been seated in the Senate, so waiting for him to be seated (to be “congenial”) is no longer an excuse. (This was never an excuse for the House of Representatives.)

  • daveinboca

    The Canadian Premier of Newfoundland/Labrador was obviously conned into visiting the USA for his heart condition by those crafty Republicans. You know, the clever ones that Joe Klein and Anne Quindlen blame for tricking the dumb American people for wanting fiscal discipline instead of ginormous bureaucratically inert Health Care System that makes you wait in line for months—you know, just like in Canada!!!

  • DLS

    “There are people I have met here in America that spent years in Swedish prisons because they didn’t disclose EVERYTHING about their business.”

    Two words: “President Cuomo”

  • Schadenfreude_lives

    Trolls intentionally try to rile people and simplify or make uglier their expressions in order to do so…A troll’s statement is designed only to be affronting to certain people

    Sounds like a perfect description of you, at least to me.

    Trolls don’t have to be lying – they just need to be posting with no real purpose but to be offensive in their statements, and to try and get emotional reactions instead of civil dialog.

    You confirmed what I suspected was true about you, and have consistently posted the vast majority of you thoughts with as many insult and degrading comments as possible to those who do not agree with you. So yes, you are a troll, IMHO.

    More power to you, and have all the fun you want trying to rile people up. I am done with you, unless you change. Others can decide for themselves if it is worthwhile to try and have a dialog with you.

    • dduck12

      Come on- the Moderate big tent, corset wearer.

  • $199537

    Is the title a trick question? Obama never provided leadership on the health care issue. He laid out ground rules that were almost impossible to follow then left the House and Senate on their own. He did make some speeches initially but there was never much guidance from the White House, or if there was it was it was all behind the scenes. He let the public option become a primary issue for progressives without taking a stance on it himself.

    The guy’s inexperience and lack of leadership showed from day one. For a smart guy he acted pretty dumb.

  • Lit3Bolt

    It’s political situations like this that make me go from vague quiet depression to full blown nihilism. Healthcare is a huge domestic problem, the biggest item on the budget aside from defense spending (and a rant against THAT is a whole ‘nother post), destined to only grow bigger and more expensive, and we have one party cheering failure to address this problem while the other gazes stupidly at its elected officials, wondering exactly what was the point of electing these bozos in the first place if they couldn’t, y’know, actually GOVERN. Hell, the Republicans may be evil, but at least they can tie their shoes in the morning. History will damn Obama for not using the near tyrannical powers of the US presidency to their fullest advantage to get the legislation he wanted. Or did he? I’m so confused now.

    Is there a back story to this? Did Obama’s political strategist die in the past year or something? Did all Democrats brain cells fry when they saw Scott Brown? The meltdown is beyond epic now. It’s legendary. It sadly plays into key Republican talking point of Obama’s lack of leadership…given the evidence, it’s hard not to disagree.

    So yeah, let’s go. President Palin. You betcha, bring her on. The sooner we can assist the full blown meltdown of the US government, the sooner we can start over.

  • daveinboca

    Schadenfreude, a few years ago, the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the US Army fought a boxing match in Sweden and told me afterwards that in the month leading up to the match, he thought the Swedes, though they hid their true feelings behind a babble of PC gibberish, were the most racist of the thirty or so countries that he had a privilege of visiting while fighting bouts with a couple or three weeks training thrown in.

    Now we see from the troll Axel, if he is an example, that they are probably the most condescending and least knowledgeable except in their very narrow minds. There are exceptions of course to every rule, but this dude seems to fall into the prejudiced often-wrong-but-never-in-doubt arrogant northern European category. I lived in France for several years and travelled all over Europe, and found most Europeans relatively broad-minded, though a bit convinced their own small slice of national territory possessed an inordinate amount of the world’s wisdom and historical importance.

  • DLS

    “Did Obama’s political strategist die in the past year or something?”

    Rahm Emanuel has been the object of much scrutiny and criticism.

    Let’s see if “bringing Plouffe onto the team” becomes meaningful soon.

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