This is where the Rs and the industry-ass-kissing ConservaDems have been heading all along, to implosion. Feint and stall, dodge and hit, and viola! you have dragged out a debate to the point where the public has become cynical or uncaring or even hostile.
But as much as I seethe at how opponents of reform not only stalled progress, but made themselves richer at the same time, as much as my stomach turns watching Joe Lieberman’s grin, in the end, I lay all this at Obama’s feet. The Rs treated this as a political fight (remember “his Waterloo?”) from the outset, and they sensed weakness – or a willingness to collaborate – early. If he had come out fighting for what was right, as he promised to do in his campaign, instead of following Rahm Emmanuel into the arms of Health, Inc., striking deals with people who wanted nothing at all to do with reform, we might be someplace different right now. He might have gotten scarred, but he wouldn’t be at 50 percent or under in the polls, and we might very well have had a measure of real reform. But I am now convinced he never meant what he said, never seriously intended to fight for real reform.
The bill that will emerge is, at the end, what the White House wanted – no public option, no buy-in, and a huge transfer of wealth to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Emmanuel and others will trumpet this as a “win” for Democrats, but it will be a “loss” for Americans.
My former boss, Sen. Russ Feingold, puts it more diplomatically. He called blaming Lieberman unfair and pointed out that the responsibility ultimately rests with Obama, and that he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation. Feingold went on – This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth. I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect.
Some will sigh and say it was the best we could get, so let’s pass it and try to fix it later. But “later” never comes. In the meantime, insurance premiums will soar, people will lose coverage, and, in fact, thousands will die from lack of care they couldn’t afford.
This is beyond sin.
UPDATE – Predictably, Obama has traded away chunks of support from his core constituencies – NBC/WSJ poll coming out Was it really worth it, Mr. President?