By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
As any good Persian rug dealer knows, you have to hold back a bargaining chit so that you can whip it out at the very end to tie down the sale. That’s how Obama is playing the so-called public option in his healthcare program. His plan seems to be to combine its abandonment with some form of tort reform and try to buy off some Republicans — maybe only Maine’s Sen. Olympia Snowe — to give moderate Democrats enough confidence in the veneer of bipartisanship to win their backing for his bill.
But it’s a fraud and a trick.
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
The Hill's A.B. Stoddard answers viewer questions about whether things would be any different or any better had Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the election, and considers the issue: Are there enough doctors to treat new patients under healthcare reform?
Who would have thought that racial issues would become worse — not better — with an American president who happens to be black?
Listening to Democrats dismiss opponents of President Barack Obama’s healthcare proposal as racists, I couldn’t help but wonder whether that were the case. According to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn (D), all Republicans who oppose Obama’s plan are racist. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said as much by insinuating that the GOP white guys in the room can’t resist the urge to shout “Boy!” whenever they see the president.
There are telling warning signs for Democrats, and Republicans as well, in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Though it focuses largely on the embattled effort to reform the nation's healthcare system, the poll measures voter sentiment on government and the two parties in general, particularly that of seniors, and finds the public is down on the president, the Democratic Party and the GOP.
The poll counts more independent voters than at any time in the history of this poll — at 43 percent of respondents. What's more, roughly one-third of those polled said they do not trust either party to handle the nation's largest problem in the coming years.
In the wake of President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress this week on health reform, Americans showed how finicky their support can be. There is no doubt the President delivered the finest-sounding rhetoric topped with a cherry, but should Americans mindlessly accept it as truth cut from whole cloth that should now serve as their basis for renewed support?
There are so many details that have not surfaced yet. Individuals are still culling through the drips and drabs of details the White House chooses to release, wrapped in more tantalizing promises of milk and honey.
By consolidating support among Democrats — from liberals threatening all or nothing on the public option to conservatives nervous about cost and clarity for the insured now fearful of reform — President Barack Obama's speech served his purpose. Now is the time to get everybody on board and voting yes — everybody, that is, except for Republicans.
As part of my experiment to use the Pundits Blog to report real news and news analysis, the most important result of the president's speech is this: One day after the president spoke to rally the troops for the public option he said he supported, both the Speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate clearly changed their positions in ways contrary to the president's words.
Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the health co-ops are an effective substitute for the public option, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had previously said a bill could not and should not pass the House without a public option, has changed to the position that it is negotiable.
The president's speech last night was fine. It might add a little boost in the polls. It will not significantly affect the outcome. It does not deal with the larger and more important issue about the Obama presidency in general and healthcare in particular, which is this:
This town is run by power players, power centers and power institutions. The most successful presidents have mastered the art of dealing with these power centers. This is something that President Barack Obama has not yet done.
While the president's town hall meeting before a joint session of Congress last night was eloquent, compromising and signaled the abandonment of the public option, let's not lose focus on the reality of what this president and Congress still face. In order to create bipartisan healthcare reform, it is instructive to examine the issues that are difficult or impossible to reach a consensus on and areas where there may be common ground between the two views.
President Barack Obama's disapproval ratings were rising at an alarmingly (to Democrats) rapid pace back in July when he was very visible and very vocal in his attempts to push an unpopular healthcare reform bill down our collective throat. Most analysts thought those numbers might smooth out when Obama "disappeared" for a while during the August recess. But the approval numbers sank even further as the disapprovals kept inching upwards.