Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Does the Obama administration know where it's going?

If we were being generous, we'd say the White House has a messaging problem.

The administration spent last weekend seeming to prepare us for the end of the public option. They walked that back a little the following day, but yesterday they professed astonishment that a public option is actually as important to voters as the polls have been showing for months (one anonymous staffer wrote these people off as "the left of the left;").

Now the White House is signaling that they may finally abandon the chimera of bipartisanship in pushing through health care reform. That's good news--if they're still saying that tomorrow.

Congressional Republicans have made it abundantly, pellucidly clear: They have no intention of voting for anything that could, by any stretch, be called health care reform, no matter how much it is neutered to accommodate the moving target of conservative objections. For some Republicans (and Blue Dogs) the reason is simply that they are doing the bidding of their corporate sponsors (in a more honest world, they would wear corporate logos on their jackets, like NASCAR drivers). For the rest, it is simply their compulsion to confound Obama and all his works.

But the point is that this has been obvious, going back through every major congressional vote since Obama took his hand off the Bible last January. I'm pleased that the White House has finally recognized this, and is ready to make use of its majorities in both chambers.

But I'm amazed that it's taken this long for that insight to register.

And I'm worried that they'll be headed some other direction by Friday.

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