Still Not Getting It


A while back, I remarked on Nancy-Ann DeParle’s rather breathtaking statement that she didn’t know why health care reform had, over the course of the debate, become less popular than the status quo.  That struck me as unacceptable from the lead White House adviser on health care reform.

It seems DeParle isn’t the only senior adviser in the White House with a tin ear (or perhaps this is DeParle again):

“I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,” said an anonymous senior White House adviser. “We’ve gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don’t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform.”

Regardless of whether or not the public option should be the left’s line in the sand on health care reform, there’s no excuse for a senior White House adviser not to understand how it came to be that.  Any number of analyses in the media and the blogosphere have laid it out.  Senior White House advisers are supposed to know more about politics than those people, not less.

The more I hear from this White House, including the president, the more politically tone deaf they sound.

The last Pres. Bush combined the worst facets of the Nixon and Grant administrations: Nixon’s disregard for the rule of law, executive imperialism, dirty tricks, and cynicism, and Grant’s bumbling and corruption.  Pres. Obama is bidding fair to combine the most deadly facets of the Carter and early Clinton administrations: Carter’s political naivete and mismanagement of congress, and the early Clinton’s sheltered, professorial approach to [health care] policymaking without regard to the politics of it.

Update (8/20/2009 3:14 pm): Apparently, I’m not the only one appalled that the Obama team doesn’t get this.


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2 Responses to “Still Not Getting It”

  1. Sandi Says:

    If Obama does have a master plan that will fix things without a public option, he needs to let us in on it. The public option is our Waterloo because passing reform and expanding coverage without a mechanism to control costs will lead to massive electoral losses for Democrats in the future. Republicans know this as well as anyone. Of course they don’t want reform at all, but if it buys them a comeback I’m sure they wouldn’t be that upset. Opposing it is a win-win for them even if they know that something will eventually pass.

  2. urbino Says:

    Exactly — expanding coverage without controlling costs will either break the budget or require a big tax increase on something. (Actually, it’ll eventually break the budget, regardless.) And I think you’re right that this is big reason why the GOP has gone nuclear against every cost-control measure the Dems have proposed.

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