Appearing on the radio show of “conservative” Michael Smerconish (never heard of him before today) , President Obama continued a theme of blaming Republicans for the current woes of the health care reform bill and accused the Republican leadership of deciding early on to deny Obama a victory. (And in a highly odd reference he blamed the month of August for “wee-weeing” up many politicians.) Like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and others, he is attempting to advance the narrative that if it just weren’t for those immoral and obstructionist Republicans, we’d have utopian health coverage and everyone would get a pony.
Here’s a memo to Obama and the rest of the Democrats: it ain’t the Republicans’ fault this thing is in trouble. As the left has so happily crowed since November, the Democrats don’t need a single Republican to vote for this bill. They have a commanding majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Not even unified Republican opposition would be able to completely stop the passage of this bill.
So then what could possibly be the problem? The trouble for Obama is that the opposition lies even deeper than a mere political party – the American people are being more and more skeptical about the claims and the cost of the health care bill. The very real opposition is being registered by centrist and moderate Democrats, who, far from being fooled by a non-existent “astro-turfing” campaign, are quite believing that they will pay a political price for supporting the bill in its current form with a public option.
It’s these moderate Democrats, who out of both principle and political survivalism, that are gumming up the works, and it’s put them at direct odds with the liberal wing of the Democratic party, who want a public option rammed through by absolutely any means necessary. These liberals should remember that Obama and the rest of the Democrats didn’t get swept into power because of a mandate by the American people for a hard left agenda – the Democrats painted themselves as more moderate and centrist than their current actions have illustrated. Couple that with a distaste for Bush and you have the reason for their current power, none of which is due to a broad American desire for unfettered liberalism (backed up by the recent Gallup poll that shows self-identified liberals in the minority in every single state).
All of it puts Obama at a very direct disadvantage – if he moves just a hair to the right to accommodate the moderate Dems (and at the same time allay some fears of the Republicans), then he loses the stridently liberal Democrats, who have stated repeatedly they’ll vote against any bill that doesn’t have a public option. But if he leaves it in, he risks losing those moderate Dems and drawing the ever-growing wrath of the American people. No matter how he tries to blame Republicans, he cannot escape the simple fact that this bill is not wanted or popular.
Zogby has Obama’s approval down to 45%, and a whopping 59.2% of independents disapprove of the job he’s doing. Still think it’s just those rascally Republicans and “fake” town hall protesters holding Obama back? There’s a political reality that has the moderate Democrats running scared, and ignoring that reality will spell doom for either the health care bill or the majority status of the Democrats – possibly both. The blame game (which takes place after a campaign in which the President pledged to reach across the aisle in a post-partisan era) needs to end, and a plan more palatable to the American people needs to be developed.