The White House is learning all the wrong lessons from Clinton’s effort to reform health care 15 years ago. Those at the White House think that they will be punished by the voters for failing to reform health care.
But one of the reason voters revolted against the Democrats in 1994 was not that they failed to deliver on a campaign promise, but that their proposals scared the hell out of the American people. It’s not that they failed, but they overstepped their mandate by trying to do far too much.The White House appears to think that the public generally wants its version of health care reform, it’s just that the voters don’t really know it yet. If Obama could just somehow find the magic words to turn things around.
In June, ABC News aired a one-hour special from the White House on health care reform. In July, Obama held a press conference on health care reform (where he made an unforced error by stepping into the Henry Louis Gates affair). Obama has also had numerous town halls, other speeches and conference calls on the subject. And now he’s going to salvage the debate with yet another speech before a joint session of Congress?In the end, the best advice for Obama (which I offer fully confident that he won’t take it), is to seek passage for a plan that the American people can accept (no cancellation of policies for sick people, no denials due to preexisting conditions, vouchers for the poor, etc.) and ditching those they can’t (public option, rationing, transfer of monies from Medicare), and declare at least a partial victory.
But because the White House thinks Obama can sell ice to Eskimos and their refusal to see that their problems lie in the substance of health care reform, such moderation of the Left’s health care agenda is not likely.
In the end, Obama will reiterate the same tired arguments he’s been making for the past 3 months, soften or rename (but not eliminate) the need for a public option, make nice noises towards Republicans (although they already know that Obama thinks talk is cheap), and try to unify the Democrats saying that they’ll pay at the next election if they don’t do something now.
So get some beer, popcorn, nachos or other snacks to watch the President’s address on Wednesday. This is going to be classic. He’ll either save his bacon, or self-destruct. I’m betting on the latter.
I think this is an astute observation...