There seems to be no letup in the criticism from Democrats over Obama’s lack of leadership on health care. Sam Stein reports:
Despite urging Democratic senators on Wednesday to forge ahead on health care reform, President Obama and his aides have been largely hands-off in guiding the legislative process, Senate aides tell the Huffington Post. And on Thursday a leading Senate progressive called out the White House publicly for abandoning the leadership role that is needed to get legislation passed.
“The president was weighing in pretty heavily on the discussions between the House and Senate before the Massachusetts special [Senate] election,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told Huffington Post. “It’s dried up since.”
Brown is not alone. (“Brown’s lament was echoed in conversations with several high-ranking Senate aides this past week, many of whom agreed that the administration’s involvement in health care negotiations has declined since Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.”) What isn’t clear is whether the White House is simply incapable of exercising leadership and clueless about what a bipartisan, passable piece of legislation might look like, or whether Obama is making a tactical move to throw rhetorical crumbs to the netroots but leave the whole mess to Congress, knowing it will amount to nothing.
Either explanation is plausible. Obama isn’t known for delving into details of legislation, so he might well be out of ideas and interest in the finer points of what was to be his signature issue. But it is also possible that the White House has figured out that ObamaCare is a loser with the general electorate. In that case, if Obama is to stabilize his own approval ratings, it would be better for the country to avoid more uproar over a hugely unpopular bill. Not giving direction to the Reid-Pelosi duo is tantamount to killing the bill.
Whichever theory is right, the result is the same. We won’t see anything passed approximating the massive ObamaCare bill. In the end, that’s a good thing for the country and probably for incumbents, who in their heart of hearts have probably always understood that you can’t pass a bill on a strict party line vote that 70 percent of the country hates and expect to “sell it” to them later. Well you can, but you’ll be thrown out of office.