Today marks a milestone in my career as an Amateur Wonk. Today, I shuffle off some of the coil of being a devoted fanboi for one President Barack Hussein Obama.
It is often hoped that Obama is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. I’m starting to worry that he’s playing Chutes and Ladders—and not doing very well at it.
I hate to address this here and now. I was an early adopter of Obama 2.0 (Change). A few of my loved ones might could be on the verge of a justified knuckle-swatting “I told you so.” I hope not. I hope the man is indeed sizing up a powerful, unexpected checkmate to unleash in September. He’d better be. Because if the Democrats lose on the issue of health care reform this time around, they are cooked in 2010, and they are cooked in 2012, and they are cooked for the next 50 years, at least.
Democrats do not get to adopt an albatross such as a failure at health care reform without failing politically at every other endeavor they attempt. They’ll be pillaged for failing. They’ll be pillaged for trying. Common legends will take hold as fact: The Democrats tried to install Death Panels so they could “pull the plug on Gramma,” just like the nice man from Iowa said; the Democrats tried to turn America into a bunch of wussy communists and also wanted to force us all to be a bunch of tranny homosexuals to boot.
But we’ll be pilloried by the birthers and these foes of common sense no matter what. Obama could hand-deliver these folks a plan that covered them for life and made them immortal and made their gentials bigger and sparklier and they’d still be yelling that the government should get its mitts off of their Medicare. The truly sad part of this incipient debacle is what it will do to Obama’s rank-and-file, those who believed fully, who knocked and phoned and made out the checks. None of us expected President Obama to be Superman, and Washington does have a way of chewing idealistic Presidents up. But with the majorities we carry, and with a nominally popular executive, and following one of the most bleak political periods in recent memory, if we do not achieve this now, we will never achieve it. And if we don’t, Obama loses his luster with his most fervent believers. He will become just another useless dick in Washington. And then where in heck do we go politically?
If Obama and the Democrats in Congress fail to pass reform, they will have spent all of their political capital for nothing, and they will return to facing a bleak political landscape, one that will make the Bush years seem more like Disneyland than Thunderdome. It was easy to scoff at Jim Absynthe at the time, but President Obama may indeed be facing his own Waterloo.
But I’m not feeling completely hopeless. Not completely. It is only August, and even with as active an August it has been, the real action does not come until after Labor Day. President Obama may have a Bartlet move in him. Maybe he’ll walk to Capitol Hill. Then maybe they’ll keep him waiting. Ya know?