I cannot begin to say how disappointed I am with the Health Care Summit. Not that I expected any real compromises and resolution to happen. But I did not expect the GOOP to be allowed to run rough shod over PODUS and use the opportunity to shine up their stupid mantra on health care, and that’s what happened.
The White House was unprepared, or unwilling, to challenge the GOOP talking points. “Lets start with a blank sheet of paper,” was an easy one to knock down. We started with a blank sheet of paper a year ago. Max Baucus sat down with a team of GOOP and right wing Democrats to write a health care bill. The result was the abortion we have today. What makes the GOOP think we can do any better by starting over again. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Do they think we are crazy?
John McCaine got a wonderful opportunity to preach his mantra about the evils of pork barrels and compromise precisely because the Senate Bill is a Christmas Tree covered with pork chops. There is an answer to McCaine and the President never made it. John McCaine campaigned for president on health care reform and offered a plan that represented at least a step forward on the subject. Where was John McCaine when the Senate needed one vote to make the deal work? The pork and the compromises were necessary to get the votes the senate needed. Why wasn’t McCaine in the mix instead of on the sidelines saying no?
The singular most disappointing performance I saw was Hairy Reed talking out of both sides of his mouth on the subject of reconciliation. With an aghast Steney Hoyer looking on, Reed explained that we were not gong to use the “controversial” reconciliation method of getting the bill passed. Then he said we were.
It is hard to understand how this happened. The best case scenario is that the President naïvely believed that we would go in there, take their best shots, and prove to the American people that they are idiots. Sort of a political rope a dope. If that’s true, then the President has a lot more to learn than he should have to learn at this juncture in his career. It should also mean that if his staff is any good, they lost a fight to get him to do otherwise.
Maybe his staff is incompetent. Maybe they advised him that the rope a dope is the best way to go.
Maybe, and this is the scary part, POTUS is a process-based ideologue who really has a tin ear for political nuance and believes totally that the process, if left to its own devices, will produce the correct result. If that is true, then a sure sign is that he is not listening to his advisors (who sat ominously silent during the entire summit), or at least not listening to them when they say things he does not agree with.
The truth is that process does not produce correct results on its own. It requires a kick in the head from time to time. It has t0 be led by a person who knows where he or she is going and is not going to be deterred by nuisance opposition. That’s the kind of leader we need. Do we have one?