Of course, it’s not bad policy either. Anyway, Paul Krugman is exactly right on target:
If progressives had real trust in Obama’s commitment to doing the right thing, the administration would have broad leeway to do deals. But the president doesn’t command that kind of trust….
So progressives have their backs up over one provision in health care reform that’s easy to monitor. The public option has become not so much a symbol as a signal, a test of whether Obama is really the progressive activists thought they were backing.
And the bizarre thing is that the administration doesn’t seem to get that.
I think most active Democrats, whether they be conservative, moderate, or liberal, do not trust Democrats to do the right thing by themselves. To me, this is a perfect[ly] reasonable assumption: with the exception of the Social Security ‘debate’ of 2006, the Democrats have essentially capitulated on every issue of note. At this point, I wouldn’t trust any Democratic politician unless I had the deal signed in blood and a relative as a goodwill hostage….
Like it or not, Obama too is affected by Clinton fatigue: Democrats will be watching far more closely and cutting him a lot less slack until Obama delivers some good policies.
So has he? Not exactly:
Here’s the scorecard so far:
Budget: excellent on paper. Who knows what will happen to it.
Stimulus: Punk’d in the congress, empowered presidents Nelson and Collins, w/probably have to come back for more. Expect shrieking teabagging.
Civil liberties and accountability: nearly total sellout
National security: escalation in Afghanistan, faux withdrawal from Iraq, trillions more in spending.
Environment: watered down cap and trade, probable death in the senate
Health care: strategically compromised, wimpering in the face of teabagging, possible sellout.
Immigration and civil rights: one supreme court justice, push off reform until God knows when
Everything listed there, whether as a matter of principle, future political advantage or long term party building is a disappointment so far.
If a good healthcare policy isn’t passed, I predict House Democrats will lose 20-30 seats at least, and ~five seats in Senate. The rank-and-file won’t lift a finger to help them.