Let's start with last week, immediately after Obama signed healthcare reform into law. Senior adviser David Axelrod said passage became possible in the dark days that followed Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) victory, which cost the Democrats a 60th vote in the Senate to break filibusters, that the GOP dropped the ball. "Some of the steam went out of the opposition after that," said Axelrod. "I think that people felt like they had made a statement. Perhaps they felt like they had killed healthcare reform ... they thought the fight was over. And that [the president] couldn't now succeed. I do believe that. And it's almost as if they had made the statement that they thought they had stopped the thing. And so it created a breathing space for us to regroup."
In reality, the loss allowed the fierce urgency of defeat to prompt Democratic leaders in the House to agree to pass the toxic Senate bill they had insisted all along they would never touch. The healthcare reform bill, which could never even be conferenced between House and Senate, as all bills are supposed to be, made it through the Congress on a partisan vote because Democrats saw exactly what was coming in Brown's victory and knew it was now or never. Any way how, or never. Brown's campaign, as I have written here, also credits terror policies the most with his victory. So to misread that election, and to conclude that opponents had given up, isn't going to help Team Obama as it tries to fend off devastating losses in this fall's midterm elections.
Next up Obama flew up to Iowa to hold a pep rally for reform, during which he egged on Republicans who were promising repeal of the law. "They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. Well, I say go for it." Predictably, said this Democrat, this was the quote that ran on cable over and over again, of President Obama acting like President George W. Bush. Not only is the swagger wrong, but why make healthcare reform about himself when there are millions of insured and uninsured Americans with compelling stories about illness, lack of coverage, fear of losing it or the inability to keep pace with exponential premuim hikes for Obama to talk about?
On the first round of Sunday shows after passage, the White House, as my wise Democrat points out, sent out Valerie Jarrett and Axelrod to defend the law. The signal it sent was that this was all about politics. Why didn't they send out the secretary of Health and Human Services or the secretary of Commerce? Even better, why not the Treasury secretary to talk about the positive economic impact of reform?
These are all excellent points, courtesy of a loyal Democrat. Sure, there is plenty of time to repackage reform, but so far, no good. The clock is ticking on November.
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