Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama Kung-Fu Panda™

There was a lot of talk this weekend about the perceived White House softening on the public option due to a comment made by President Obama during a town hall meeting in Colorado (which I think wasn't a softening at all if you listen to what he was trying to say in the overall context) and an interview by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in which she stated that the public option is "not the essential element" in health care reform. I was still hesitant to think that all the "president is backing off the public option" ballyhoo was actually the case considering that Congress is not in session and the MSM was hungry for something to fill their time other than Michael Jackson's brain.

In any case, the possibility that this could happen was a breaking point for the left who have started to mobilize. Whether progressives and liberals were coming off the Obama honeymoon or whether they realized that they had to be as vocal as the misinformed, gun-toting nutballs at the town hall meetings, the pushback has finally started.

My theory: I think the Sebelius statement was a trial balloon. If the statement was used to gauge a perceived softening on the public option or an actual one is up for debate. The end result is the liberal and progressive base got tired of laying back and are now on the offensive to the benefit of the Obama administration, even though their outrage is directed at the ever-tiring Democratic capitulation.

But some are now writing that this may have been part of the plan all along; some more Obama Kung-Fu. And if you think about it, you can whip up your base into a frenzy by looking like you are softening to the GOP and losing your spine, because in the end you really aren't going to lose your liberal base. What liberal or progressive in their right mind would vote for ANY Republican?

Now, President Obama has always said that change has to start with us. On that I agree. But the way this has been unfolding, I'm finding it a little hard to believe that it's all part of a grand plan, that this administration although very savvy, is always ten steps ahead of absolutely everyone else. (If they are, then we are in for an awesome eight years.)

Ultimately, I don't think that the White House will accept a final bill without a public option, but if there had been no outrage from the left, if we had become defeatist and complacent (and I think some of us were headed that way) then who knows how horrible a compromised bill could become? Luckily, progressives and liberals, sixty and counting in the House, are galvanizing and threatening to vote against any bill that doesn't contain a public option.

So in my opinion, I don't think this was an example of Obama Kung-Fu; it was more the situation turning to fortuitously help the White House. Maybe call it Obama Kung-Fu Panda™.


Chris Anderson said...

I had this conversation with a friend who was trying to make this argument with me. I don't buy it. It strains credulity to think a politician would play that game.

And if it's true, it's abusive behavior that shows a thorough disregard for common decency and respect for the electorate.

NowhereMan said...

Although Obama has proven that he plays chess while his opponents play checkers,I don't buy it either.Two months ago Rahm Emanuel said the public option was negotiable.This is about the fourth "trial balloon they have floated.Ten days ago Emanuel told advocacy groups to back off media ads that attacked the blue dogs who were against the public option.With his poll numbers going down among his supporters it would be political suicide to be that deliberately cunning.

Broadway Carl said...

Chris - I definitely think politicians play this game to gauge the public opinion. It's another poll. But I don't think it's "abusive behavior." For me to categorize it as such, it would have to fall into the realm of, oh, I don't know, let's say lying to get us into a war or disregarding the rule of law and illegally mining our phones and e-mail for information.

Chris Anderson said...

Well there is a difference between being abusive and breaking the law.

Fraulein said...

You know what -- if it ends up getting us the public option, then I don't care at this point what means they use to get there. Carl, can you cross-post this one too when you get a chance? Thanks!