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Posted by on Aug 21, 2009 in Health, Politics | 24 comments

Quote of the Day: Is Healthcare Reform Becoming A Lose-Lose For Obama?

Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein (who did superb work when he was on the Los Angeles Times). He analyzes polls showing that Barack Obama and the Democrats are being steadily weakened by the healthcare reform battle, then writes:

As the prospects for bipartisan agreement in the Senate fade, the need for Obama to unify Democrats will increase. Right now, though, he is losing Democrats from both wings of the party, even as independents soften and conservatives mobilize. Obama’s ratings in the Pew survey declined slightly from July to August among moderate Democrats (down two percentage points) and sharply among liberal Democrats (down nine percentage points).

These poll numbers suggest that health care is becoming the classic issue that wounds a president: one that unites his opponents and divides his own side. Obama probably has little hope of changing the first half of that equation; when Congress returns he’ll probably need to focus more on improving the second.

So…as many predicted when he was elected, one of Obama’s biggest tasks is satisfying the party’s liberal wing — which is showing signs of sitting on its hands and could do so in 2010.

I recall in 2000 when liberal Democrat friends said they would either not vote or vote for Ralph Nader to teach the Democratic party a lesson since there was really little difference between the two parties. The same mind-set seems to be occurring again — and most likely the same political results will follow. All analyses about the GOP becoming a regional party and overpowered by the Demmies is inoperative if you have motivated conservative Republicans and blase or irked liberal Democrats who will stay home. The “I”ll teach them a lesson and let the Republicans win” attitude proved useful to the Republicans: once in power Republicans seem to know how to stay in power;once in power Democrats seem to know how to work themselves out of it.

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  • Leonidas

    Liberal wont sit on their hands in 2010. They have no option but support democrats or give up seats to Republicans. Do they think for one second they would be strengthened by having more Republican opposition to them? Thats the problem with being oj the fringe, there is only one direction to turn.

  • Lit3Bolt

    The problem is Obama hasn’t even done a bare minimum of pandering to his base, as Republicans do. The public option enjoys or used to enjoy a majority of support among Americans, and now White House Dems are sounding trial ballons to kill it off? Obama also seems especially inept in using the power of his office to help his party.

    Democrats apparently have short memories and have ignored the lessons of 2000. By dismissing the left’s stance on everything from the wars, to gay marriage, to transparency, to wiretapping, the huge bailout bonuses, etc etc, the Democrats have proven themselves just as cynical at manipulating hippies and unions as the Republicans are with evangelicals and fiscal conservatives. Obama campaigned on hope and change, not “Republican Lite.” So while such behavior may seem or is self-destructive from a political power perspective (3 times fast!), this is what happens when a party sells its base down the river for short term gain in the 24/7 media cycle.

  • Leonidas

    “The public option enjoys or used to enjoy a majority of support among Americans”

    used to enjoy, until they looked into it, now they know better and it is going off the table. Steny Hoyer just added his name to those backing off. Its dead Jim. With the polls going down for Obama and the democrats, including the public trusting the GOP more on healthcare for the first time in 2 years, they have to back out fast before they take too much damage. Obama is down to as low as 45% approval in the polls, they can’t hold the line much longer.

    • Lit3Bolt

      @ Leonidas–

      So wait, you’re eager for more GOP legislation like the Medicare Drug plan? Also Obama is at 45% for attempting to please the Republicans, not the Democrats, and therefore pissed off both. Bipartisanship is dead, unless you’re Republican. Then you enjoy broad bipartisan support for foreign wars that cost trillions that no one but “teh crazy left” protests.

  • LibertyLovingPatriot

    The problem with you ultra-liberals is you actually think you’re normal. Most of the country is center-right, and stupidly had no idea what an extreme radical Obama was. He campaigned as a moderate and avoided talking like someone who sat in Reverend Wright’s “church” for 20 years. So I hope you all push your radical left crap, so we can do to you what we did to Jimmy Carter. The majority of people have lost confidence in this budget busting spender who at heart is still a community organizer. Enjoy it while you can libs, your time is soon over!

  • SSR0601

    Choice between hope and manipulated fear.

    To be sure, time does not fix the endless greed, energy depletion. Considering the current fuel price is hovering around $60 to $70 per barrel in this economy, supposedly it might be equivalent to the peak price last year while the similar runaway premiums keep on rising, heading for financial ruin. And it is firmly believed if people fail to build a bridge for the next generations, the current generation, too, can not avoid falling off the cliff, as the world-wide overpopulation & immense consumption in conventional energy and the other resources no longer allows waste.

    As usual, when the positive effects including job creation and savings generated by investments are left out of the equation, fear and scare are left alone. Today choice between hope and manipulated fear lies with people’s will.
    I’d say : If a nation is involved in wars, that is, pro-physical power, instead of science / innovation, regardless of the result, its destination is definite as the last presidential race and great recession show.

    Thank You !

  • elrod

    Craighardy is a reminder of why I support Obama in the end, warts and all. The alternative is nihilistic Palinism.

    Polling on the public option depends almost entirely on the wording. If you include the word “choice of a public option” instead of just “alternative” – support jumps a ton. SUSA just ran a poll the other day showing 77% supporting the “choice” of a public option. Yet, different wording gets less support.

    • Lit3Bolt

      @ elrod–Knoxvegas shout out. Anyway, I’m almost ready to support nihilistic Palinism if only to hasten the destruction of this country and get it over with.

      Also, I’m curious about something…why do the bots only comment on Joe’s posts? lol

      • Leonidas

        Back to the initial post topic. I’d suggest maybe its already a Lost-Lost

        • Lit3Bolt

          I agree Leonidas. One term.

        • pacatrue

          I think you are overestimating the attention span of the average voter. The Dems will come back and pass something this fall, and that’s a full 3 years before the normal person thinks about an election again. Clinton’s health care work went even worse than the current one, in the sense that nothing was passed in the end, and he was elected again three years later. My guess is that Obama’s re-election will depend almost entirely on the economy.

  • harry938

    The problem with our current system of Democrat/Republican is that the same special interests back both parties. Usually the administrations try to lean one way or another to make the whole show look good. Unfortunately, public opinion is supporting the public health insurance option this time. The public option is not going to help any of the special interests very much. We will likely go through several weeks of very intense publicity, funded by the insurance industry and other special interests, to convince everyone that the public option is bad. At the peak of the publicity, the administration will make a “compromise” deal which leaves out the public option. In the end, the public gets shafted again. That said, I will go down fighting for what is right and that’s a single-payer (or at least public option) health insurance system. At least I sleep good at night.

  • Leonidas


    Yes look at that Poll. Howmany democrats thought it was extremely important? 61% How many Republicans felt it was extremely important 58% Gee thats a good show of support isn’t it? Or Is it?

    The question

    In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance–extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?

    How a democrat might see it:

    How important is it to have a government run program for healthcare?

    How a Republican might see it:

    How important is it that private options still be available if the government instituted public healthcare?

    Two very different perceptions. I don’t think anyone here believes for a second that Republicans support government run healthcare almost the same amount that Democrats do.

    So your right to be skepitical of poll questions, just as I disregard that 77% figure as a sign of approval of a public option. But when Obama and democrats numbers drop across all the polls and when for the first time in 2 years Republicans are polled as more trusted on healthcare than democrats, I have to think there is some reality there.

    Keep your skepticism is a good thing, but don’t hold on too it too hard.

  • Leonidas

    I wont say one term yet, it depends on who the GOP runs. If they run say Palin, Obama is a shoe in, if its Romney, Obama has problems, it really depends on who the opposition is.

  • vey9

    Craighardy and I have one thing in common, we are both rightcenters. Other than that, we depart.

    Obviously, Craighardy is not involved in business, if he was, he would know that businessmen, both large and small, are sick and tired of fiddling with health insurance.

    No employer likes seeing an employee go broke because the businessman made the wrong choice in plans. You think watching an employee getting screwed gladdens an employer’s heart? Yet, no one knows whether they have purchased a good plan (and price is not always the deciding factor) or a bad one until a crisis occurs. Companies can spend $500 and up per month, only to find that it was money wasted because nobody can read a policy and nobody knows what “side deals” insurance companies cut with different providers.

    So instead of addressing escalating costs, and all the other concerns centerrights have, Criaghardy, simply says “No” and offers nothing to solve the problems. The status quo is unsustainable. Do you know what that means? It means that maintaining the status quo will cause the system to fall by it’s own weight.

    Until I start hearing real changes being offered by people like Craighardy, I must ignore them. I wish other employers would speak out this way, but things are so uncertain right now that they can’t.

  • Silhouette

    I think partisanship makes a fine diversion for substance. And so does trend-sculpting.

    The reality is that all americans want the public option, whether they realize it now or not. And when they get it, they will be thankful. The newness of it, the ease with which they can access health care without worry or fret will not be lost on them election 2010, no matter what wild rumors are flying around today trying to herd everyone in line.

    The partisan play may pick up some support right now but if dems totally ignore it and get the public option, they will be rewarded with praise no matter what, even from those who say they’re stalwartly against it right now in a kneejerk fashion.

  • Leonidas

    Sorry I missed this earlier

    “So wait, you’re eager for more GOP legislation like the Medicare Drug plan?”

    Nope. I didn’t say I liked more government involvement in this fashion, just pointing out that when the GOP was in power they did act on Healthcare. I did like the other items I listed however. Think they were great ideas.

  • Leonidas


    “…businessmen, both large and small, are sick and tired of fiddling with health insurance”

    that the truth, for a small businessman the government requirements, taxes and insurance are all big pains and enough to make you wish yu were still an employeee at times. All your work and risk to see so much return taken from you. Payroll double taxation is probably the worst, but thats another discussion.

    • Lit3Bolt

      @ Leonidas–

      Thanks for the reply. But whoa whoa whoa, you want tax reform too for small businesses? What magical fairy land are you talking about?! lol

      Also, sil deserved that bit of takedown. I guess the left believes in magicalfantasyhappyland government just as much as the right believes the United States will collapse into some sort of Mad Max wasteland if healthcare reform passes.

      I guess we’re still all waiting for someone to read the 1200 page Democratic bill and attempt to explain it. What an inept show of leadership. bleh Is it football season yet?

  • Leonidas



    “The reality is that all americans want the public option, whether they realize it now or not”

    I’ll counter that bit of Psychic mindreading with my own

    The reality is that all Americans want the Easter Bunny to descend from a UFO and grant us all perfect health whether they realize it or not.

    or maybe

    The reality is that all Americans want government to stop driving up costs and enable us to buy affordable healthcare without having our freedoms encroached upon.whether they realize it or not.

    Comeon everyone tell us what you think all Americans want whether they know it or not, its FUN!!!!

    Or anyone got a Ouija board we can break out?

  • shannonlee

    Health care isn’t lose/lose if Obama can get a public option passed. Anything less…and Obama loses. His lack of leadership and crazy people calling him a Nazi have got him cornered. If Dems don’t take the initiative now, they are going to have a tough time passing the rest of their agenda.

  • Leonidas

    The nails are in the coffin and the grave is dug for the Public option. Public opinion is against it, People are shellshocked allready from the record amount of deficit spending. The only shread of anything related to public coverage is the possibility of co-ops, which does hold some possibility as a compromise propossal. Anything more is dead unless the Democrats go nuclear if so they will probably give up the Whitehouse and both houses of Congress.within 6 years, and opened a Pandora’s box as each party nukes everything in site when in power repealing entire swaths of previously established legislation. Roe vs. Wade, gone as soon as the GOP can muster 51%, then back in as soon as the Democrats can get 51% Public healthcare repealed as soon as the GOP gets 51% then back in when the Democrats get 51% again, back and forth back and forth, utter chaos.

    I hope they don’t go nuclear, and I hope if they do I’m wrong, but I fear I may not be with the exception of nuking anything achieved solely by the nuclear option, that much is not only deserved but demanded. If the democrats nuke a public option into existence I fully hope the GOP will nuke it back out of existence at first opportunity.

  • DLS

    “So…as many predicted when he was elected, one of Obama’s biggest tasks is satisfying the party’s liberal wing — which is showing signs of sitting on its hands and could do so in 2010.”


    Do you mean the liberal wing “in Congress” or do you mean about health care?

    The problem with the health care effort is that it is the latest and worst example of the liberal Democrats running rampant, including the additional, further emergence or self-exposure of Obama as a liberal Democrat, rashly insisting on poor, destrucive, incoherent, sloppy legislation. The liberal wing of the Democrats is the party running amok in Washington, the inmates running the asylum. (This, as much as or more than the many problems with the health care goals and legislation specifically, is what has been increasingly concerning and repelling Americans.)

    The liberal wing of the public, ranging from well left to truly fringist, is fractured (as the Dems in Washington are, losing coherence from this maximum ovrerreach to date this year). But the very farthest left is still largely behind the effort, and forms some of the silly-irrelevent picketers in support of the health care event (featuring bizarre, laughably false statements on their signs like “83% Loves the Public Option” and “Health Care Is A Right”).

    Only a tiny number of these people are against the Obama plan out of total opposition to any private sector involvement. (They, like Steffie Woolhandler, at least are consistent.)

    The others out there are not silent, but perhaps you misjudge or misinterpret bewilderment and confusion among these people because of the current obvious failing of the health care effort and growing public opposition to it, or the group’s diminishing numbers, as even lefties develop concerns and say so (as the people from Huffington Post have, on CNN, for example, despite being punished for doing so by being so often interrupted and scoffed at, etc.., by the mindless supporters-and-defenders), for something else.

    * * *

    “I hope they don’t go nuclear”

    Me, too, for it would be something already identified as a deliberate, very unethical thing, and truly stooping even lower than the Dems have so far this year, notably so. But they’ve been so progressively worse in the past weeks that they’ve lost my confidence and I actually suspect they might do it. Even after the climate bill degeneracy, I didn’t think they’d actually stoop to the ramrod bypass. Even at the start of their health care idiocy I didn’t think they’d do it (I thought that if they had any brains they’d scramble to slow down and reduce their incoherence, for starters). But the Dems have lost my confidence now — they really might do the bypass.

    Which brings us to an alternative universe momentarily, before returning to here and now:

    “The reality is that all americans want the public option, whether they realize it now or not. And when they get it, they will be thankful.”

    Oh, I’m sure that universe is splendid, wherever it is. However, there’s an unintended kernel of truth in what you wrote, Sil. For that’s the imperial and elitist and removed attitude so many Dems and Obama, even, have currently. And as I’ve correctly written before, we needn’t stop here, or with other legislation that of course should be passed for the same “reasons.” We should simply have all of government permanently run by Dems and have no more elections, for they already know all that we need to know.

    (That is combined with ineptitude, childish rushing, experimentation-on-the-fly, and other Dem follies in addition to wrongful, harmful goals and legislation on record already this year, increasingly so.)

  • DLS

    “The only shread of anything related to public coverage is the possibility of co-ops, which does hold some possibility as a compromise propossal”

    Note that up to last week the co-ops were nothing but a token additional item in the floating collection of junk associated with the public option (the main, incremental-takeover goal of choice here), and there never was any serious work done on co-ops or even consideration of it, it now is simply a kind of damage control measure, far from fully supported (whatever actually is being offered, that is; again this year we have to ask, do the Dems even actually know what they want, much less what they’re writing in their legislation they aren’t bothering to read?). The childish and militant throwing a tantrum in defense of the public option probably respect the co-op idea and pursuit even less than the intelligent skeptics of the entire effort and the public option claw-hold all-along.

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