I read the various articles and blogs concerning the Obama administration seemingly backing off the public option requirement under proposed healthcare legislation. I was reminded of one particular scene from George Orwell’s Animal Farm in which Squealer (think White House spokesman Robert Gibbs) explains to the animals (the White House press pool) why Napoleon (President Obama) pulled a 180 on the building of the windmill originally proposed by the banished Snowball:
“That evening Squealer [Gibbs] explained privately to the other animals that Napoleon [Obama] had never in reality been opposed to the windmill. On the contrary, it was he who had advocated it in the beginning, and the plan which Snowball had drawn on the floor of the incubator shed had actually been stolen from among Napoleon’s [Obama’s] papers. The windmill was, in fact, Napoleon’s [Obama’s] own creation. Why, then, asked somebody, had he spoken so strongly against it? Here Squealer [Gibbs] looked very sly. That, he said, was Comrade Napoleon’s [Obama’s] cunning. He had SEEMED to oppose the windmill, simply as a maneuver to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Now that Snowball was out of the way, the plan could go forward without his interference. This, said Squealer, was something called tactics. He repeated a number of times, “Tactics, comrades, tactics!” skipping round and whisking his tail with a merry laugh. The animals were not certain what the word meant, but Squealer [Gibbs] spoke so persuasively, and the three dogs who happened to be with him growled so threateningly, that they accepted his explanation without further questions.”
As Robert Gibbs explains to the adoring press that the sudden flip on the public option was not in fact a change in policy (“If it was a signal, it was a dog whistle we started blowing weeks ago."), I keep hearing the phrase “Tactics, comrades, tactics!” Let’s just hope that, like the windmill in Animal Farm, the proposed healthcare legislation falls apart before we’re all outmaneuvered by the manipulative tactics of this White House.