Obama still voting 'present' on health care reform

Leaderless Democrats are even starting to complain about Obama's lack of involvement in the nitty gritty of getting his own legislation passed.

Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic:

After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort.

The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate leadership in "whichever way" it chooses to go on this particular question.

Read those statements carefully and you'll see they don't actually contradict each other. Instead, they offer a pretty good picture of where the public option debate is at the beginning of a week that could quite possibly decide its fate.

Obama apparently can't make up his mind between allowing for a "trigger" on a public option that would take effect after a few years when insurance companies don't "reform," and the more attractive "opt out" provision that would allow states to refuse participation in a public option.

The reason for Obama's indecision is that he doesn't want to be seen as failing if the public option goes down to defeat. So he will sit on the fence and let others do the heavy lifting, garnering most of the laurels if it passes and none of the baggage if it fails.

Senate Democrats want their president to give them a little direction - a little leadership. Whether this is beyond Obama's capabilities is unknown. What is known is that moderate Dems especially want some cover before leaping. And Obama refuses to give it to them.

Prominent liberal pundits are already taking note of Obama's lack of governing skills, with Clarence Page being the latest writing in the Chicago Tribune:

Surely President Barack Obama and his advisers don't really think that their feud with Fox News will do anything but enhance the cable network's viewership. A deeper problem is what the flap reveals about Team Obama, which seems to be more comfortable with campaigning than governing.

I'm not happy about that. It does not fill me with glee to see Fox News star Sean Hannity joyfully replaying Obama's 2004 come-together speech about how we're "not red states or blues states" but "the United States of America" and asking where is Obama's promise now?

I don't agree with Hannity on much. He's only a tad more serious-minded as a news clown, in my grumpy view, than his colleague Glenn Beck. But, as much as my wife might run from the house when she hears me say it, Hannity's right on this one.

Page agreeing with Hannity? Check to see what the weather is in hell today. The White House cannot hide Obama's inability to govern much longer. Eventually, even the liberal chattering classes will start chattering away.

At that point - probably shortly after health care reform is either shelved or goes through in a much reduced fashion - the Obama presidency will perhaps begin to be seen in a different light.




Leaderless Democrats are even starting to complain about Obama's lack of involvement in the nitty gritty of getting his own legislation passed.

Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic:

After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort.

The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate leadership in "whichever way" it chooses to go on this particular question.

Read those statements carefully and you'll see they don't actually contradict each other. Instead, they offer a pretty good picture of where the public option debate is at the beginning of a week that could quite possibly decide its fate.

Obama apparently can't make up his mind between allowing for a "trigger" on a public option that would take effect after a few years when insurance companies don't "reform," and the more attractive "opt out" provision that would allow states to refuse participation in a public option.

The reason for Obama's indecision is that he doesn't want to be seen as failing if the public option goes down to defeat. So he will sit on the fence and let others do the heavy lifting, garnering most of the laurels if it passes and none of the baggage if it fails.

Senate Democrats want their president to give them a little direction - a little leadership. Whether this is beyond Obama's capabilities is unknown. What is known is that moderate Dems especially want some cover before leaping. And Obama refuses to give it to them.

Prominent liberal pundits are already taking note of Obama's lack of governing skills, with Clarence Page being the latest writing in the Chicago Tribune:

Surely President Barack Obama and his advisers don't really think that their feud with Fox News will do anything but enhance the cable network's viewership. A deeper problem is what the flap reveals about Team Obama, which seems to be more comfortable with campaigning than governing.

I'm not happy about that. It does not fill me with glee to see Fox News star Sean Hannity joyfully replaying Obama's 2004 come-together speech about how we're "not red states or blues states" but "the United States of America" and asking where is Obama's promise now?

I don't agree with Hannity on much. He's only a tad more serious-minded as a news clown, in my grumpy view, than his colleague Glenn Beck. But, as much as my wife might run from the house when she hears me say it, Hannity's right on this one.

Page agreeing with Hannity? Check to see what the weather is in hell today. The White House cannot hide Obama's inability to govern much longer. Eventually, even the liberal chattering classes will start chattering away.

At that point - probably shortly after health care reform is either shelved or goes through in a much reduced fashion - the Obama presidency will perhaps begin to be seen in a different light.