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December 20th, 2009

A problem in a nutshell

When people of a political persuasion have their candidate win an election, often they think they are entitled to get special attention.

But they are not, and my sense of Barack Obama is that he is not going to give it to them.

I’m fine with that. Many people are not, but hopefully not too many.

Did you ever notice ...

... that Beethoven’s 6th symphony and ‘Oh, my darling Clementine’ were separated at birth?

Unsurprising

I just heard a snippet of irresponsible demagogue Bernie Sanders speaking on Countdown the other day, and his words were those of a person who is going to do the right thing. I would have been surprised if it were otherwise, but his rhetoric will be proven a cynical and damaging abuse of his audience.

(What that language he is training people to think in black and white and to be passionate about that.)
I’m listening to the Friday podcast of Jack Rice’s show, and he just had a caller who said he was very much ‘liberal’ and that he wanted to kill the healthcare bill, and the reason he gave was retribution against insurance companies.

This is the reason for bill-killing that I read and hear most often. That makes it certainly the primary motivation of the recent intra-Democratic Party battling, or the main passion being abused by leaders who have other motives.

Keeping people in this state of bouncing from demagogue to demagogue may be a driving force in political pendulum swings. Call it the Nader effect.

Counting the chickens before they hatch

Unless something moderately weird happens, before extremely long President Obama will be signing a healthcare bill similar to the one that the Senate most likely will pass soon. In the House it will pick up some votes on the right that were against the House bill. On the left, Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa will, perhaps, have a tea party together.

More than one observer has noticed the president’s silence though most of this process, and thought it inexplicable. I think the difficulty might center on a widespread expectation that progress is something Obama can and will do by oratory and flying dreams. (I suspect Ted Sorensen helped create this legend.) What happened, for better or worse, is that Barack Obama decided a long while ago that he was going to give up a public option as part of the deal to get right-wing votes. He probably thought he would get Republican support this way, and then had to change plans to get Democratic votes this way. In either case, there was little he could say that would further his plan, and so he kept quiet.

I hate to predict that Joe Lieberman won’t make more trouble, but it appears to me that he waited till the last minute and was the one who made the formal trade. If I remember correctly, he said no public option, no Medicare buy-in (a public option proxy), and probably no CLASS Act (long-term care). In other words, take out that public option and its proxy, and I’ll let you have the CLASS Act.

It looks to me as if this is Obama’s general way of doing things. He is the opposite of John McCain, who flails about wildly and very publicly. When it came to Afghanistan, Obama thought privately and very quietly. He comes out every once in a while and reiterates his intentions to close Guantanamo Bay, to under Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, etc., but doesn’t give rhetorical flourishes; rather, he says something to the effect of ‘I’ll do it, but need to figure out when and how, so keep cool’. Some people keep cool, others don’t; I guess we need both kinds.

Now, about the public option, for some people this was a serious thing to give up, but I think that in most cases of vociferous support the public option was little but a cudgel for beating a Strawman. Taking that into consideration, if there was something Barack Obama had to trade away to make the deal, it’s just as well that the something traded away was less important for healthcare than it was for Strawman-beating. I have been really disappointed in the reasons given for people’s support of the public option.

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