To public option or not to public option? That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of the progressive blogosphere and liberal talk show hosts,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To upset your party’s base: to anger Nancy Pelosi;
No more; and by avoiding bringing up the subject in a pep talk to Senate Democrats suffer
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
of a disappointed Keith Olbermann, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be avoided.
To lose poll support, to give Glenn Beck another occasion to gloat;
and Rush Limbaugh another occasion to bloat;
To try to compromise and find fragile consensus: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that elusive search for even perfunctory consensus what dreams may come
When we have met the reality of 21st century American politics,
Must give us pause: there are Democrats who will insist on “the public option”
Or threaten to sit on their hands in 2010 because this would to them be calamity of so long;
Unthinking about bearing the whips and scorns of major Democratic Congressional loses,
The Republicans having more power to thwart their agenda on many other issues;
The prospect that when Republicans regain more power Democrats can lose more power including in 2012;
The pangs of despised compromise on one issue, the law’s delay,
The insolence of perceiving a President office who to them spurns them by not totally obeying them.
That patient merit search for compromise and aggregating interests
Is “sellout” to some on the Democratic left and some on the Republican right
a fact nakedly apparent as Tiger Woods in a hotel room.
To grunt and sweat under a weary media narrative of party disunity
But that the dread of something after non-compromise,
The rebirth of Democrats being perceived by many centrist and independent voters as being mostly left
No displaced traveller returns easily, puzzles David Broder
And makes us rather bear the now trite media narrative of
Popular potentially-great President, then then unpopular President, then President in crisis, then President doomed politically, then President makes a comeback?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
But is conscience insisting on more polarization or can conscience also be trying to seek a third way
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is not bound by the pale cast of past politically partisan stereotypes,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Or is nonaction on the public option action
Or a compromise nonaction
Soft you now says some in the Democratic base
The fair Rachael Maddow! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my your remember’d.
President Barack Obama has now upset some pundits and some in the Democratic party because after meeting with Senate Democrats (including former DemmieJoe Lieberman) he dared to give a pep talk on health care reform without mentioning the public option.
President Barack Obama gave Senate Democrats a “pep talk” on healthcare Sunday, telling them they stood to make history if they passed a bill expanding healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.
Obama, during a rare Sunday Democratic caucus in the Senate, said that the healthcare reform bill, which seeks to provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, is “the most important social legislation since Social Security,” according to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
Obama told reporters that the meeting was a “pep talk,” not a negotiation.
Obama didn’t take questions from the senators or mention the two issues now dividing Senate Democrats and preventing passage of the bill: a government-run insurance plan and restrictions on federal funds for abortion. But Democrats said that Obama’s remarks gave them a boost as they try to strike compromises to get the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.
“He reminded us why we’re here, he reminded us why we run for office and he reminded us how many people are counting on us to come through,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
But it seems like there is uneasiness out there. The Huffington Post:
As President Obama finished his speech to the Democratic caucus in the Capitol’s Mansfield Room on Sunday afternoon, Joe Lieberman made his way over to Harry Reid.
The independent who still caucuses with Democrats wanted to point something out to the Majority Leader: Obama didn’t mention the public option.
Lieberman was beaming as he left the room and happy to re-point it out when HuffPost asked him what Obama had said about the public health insurance option, perhaps the most contentious issue still facing Democrats as they negotiate their way toward a final health care reform bill.
“Well, it was interesting to me — of course everybody hears with their own ears — that he didn’t say anything about the public option,” said Lieberman. “In other words, when he outlined how far we’ve come on the bill, he talked about the cost-containment provisions; he talked about the insurance market reforms; and he talked about enabling 30 million more people to get insurance. He said these are historic accomplishments, the most significant social legislation, or whatever you call it, in decades, so don’t lose it.”
It’s clear from surfing the web and talking to people that Lieberman remains the former Democrat many present Democrats “love to hate.” There is almost a mutual, perpetual grudge match. Some Democrats saw him as a DINO (Democratic in name only) due to his position on the Iraq war until they dumped him in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Then he had the last laugh as he thwarted them and won re-election as an independent. Meanwhile, by some accounts Lieberman remains angry and disappointed about how liberal Democrats targeted him — and how Democratic party bigwigs who he felt he had strong ties to dumped him in his primary battle due to ideology or fears of retribution from the left portion of his former party’s base.
So now the speculation begins.
Obama didn’t mention it. So he’s against it? If you surf progressive websites and blogs and listen to progressive talk radio, a new theme is sort of like this:“If the Democrats don’t support a strong public option I won’t donate to the party, work for the party or vote for the party.”
Once again some Democrats are letting it be known that if they don’t get their way on an issue they’ll sit on their hands in 2010 — a year when Beck, Limbaugh, the Tea Party Protesters and the RNC can be expected to get their voters whipped up by hot-button issues and “red meat” to the polls.
SOME OTHER BLOG REACTION TO THE PUBLIC OPTION:
The Democrats better start acting like they at least care about regular Americans more than the health insurance corporations. Dropping the incredibly popular public option, which would bring down the cost for the government and for regular Americans, because the private insurance companies, Republicans, and Joe Lieberman demanded it is not going to rally the base. Making the “alternative” needed to win over Snowe merely fixing a few of the problems with the exchange that she herself caused does not sound like victory. If elected Democrats insist on putting a Republican in charge, don’t be shocked when the Democratic base has zero reason to turn out in 2010. After all, a vote for a Republican is a vote for Republican leadership, and a vote for a Democrat is also a vote for Republican leadership.
No wonder Obama’s meeting one-on-one with Queen Olympia in the Oval Office again. If Reid decides he can’t afford to piss off the left by dropping the public option, they’re likely going to need not one but two votes (at least) to get to 60: Lieberman’s a lost cause and Blanche Lincoln would be committing kamikaze by voting yes. Expect to see reports of Oval Office meetings with Susan Collins sometime soon too.
Exit question: How low will Obama’s numbers go if he’s forced to drop the public plan just weeks after breaking the left’s heart with a surge in Afghanistan? What’ll be left of the cult of Hopenchange?
I’m already hearing very negative reaction on the Internets. People are “giving up” on Obama. Maybe this isn’t what they wanted to hear, but let’s try to be a little more constructive with our feistitude.
Yes, I’d love to see him come out swinging. I am as impatient as the next person, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
–The ever lively Americablog’s John Aravosis notes that Obama didn’t mention the public option then adds:
He didn’t mention abortion either.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.