I know three things about President Obama; he is a good man, he’s an honest man, and he is truly dedicated to “The Public Good.” That said, he has a curious way to trying to provide for The Public Good by negotiating with liars, bending backward for his enemies, and trying allay the fears of those who have vested their public lives to thwarting him at every turn. The man is surrounded, and instead of fighting, he is surrendering.
Obama’s big 2010 win on universal healthcare is already wholly in danger in early 2011 — and now so are valuable Senate Democrats in 2012:
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, thinks the political environment might win him a few votes, perhaps on health care repeal. “How many of the 23 Democrats who are up in ’12 are going to start voting with us?” he asked last week in an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen. “And maybe my number is not 47. Maybe it’s 51. Or maybe it’s 60. How many of the Democrats in the Senate who are up in ’12 are still comfortable with all of the ways they voted in the previous Congress and may want to go in a different direction this Congress?”
McConnell might be delusional about the number of Democrats he can pressure into coming his way. Even if he does win a few converts, he isn’t going to win a repeal fight. If the Senate does pass a repeal, the president will veto it. Then McConnell would have to find 67 votes. McConnell also knows, of course, that it’s not strictly necessary to repeal the law to use it against vulnerable Democrats.
Obama also doesn’t seem to understand why he needs to fight for his political nominees — perhaps this lesson will be wrought into his head:
Yes, Obama has been fighting the most obstructionist opposition party in modern history, but at the same time, he has let down his side by not being aggressive enough in both nominating judges and pushing for their appointment. Even if healthcare reform makes it past the current Supreme Court unscathed, the path for any future socially beneficial legislation will just get harder and harder, as the scales of justice get increasingly stacked.
How can we battle for a man who appears uninterested in fighting the demons surrounding him?
How do we help a president who wants to do the right thing, but who refuses to make the hardcore moves against his enemies to vanquish them, so his vision of The Public Good — the very idea that got him elected in the first place — can finally begin to thrive and sustain us beyond our dark and dangerous now?
It’s a rather impossible fight, David — and I wonder what the president can possibly do to overcome the tide that seems determined to crush him.
Well, Gordon, Obama had two free years to do as he pleased and to push his agenda down the throat of his haters — and he instead got caught up in trying to get everyone to like him. Now, his enemies rule the arena, and the purpose for which he was elected, is wholly lost, but not forgiven. If he’d followed a wildly liberal path the last two years, he would be no worse off politically than he is now, and he would have so many better, intractable, victories on his side when he had the votes in his pocket.