The degree of the political problem that President Obama’s “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead,” approach to health care reform has caused the ruling party in Washington, D.C. is beginning to become clear from some comments made by cognoscenti of the Democratic Party.
A gray-beard of the liberal establishment, Richard Cohen, wrote today in the Washington Post that the most apt comparison to President Obama is President Jimmy Carter. Ouch!
With regard to the health care debate, Cohen writes:
In the end, the success of the health care reform effort comes down to trust. A lesson of the raucous town-hall meetings is the sense of panic, the fear that this man in the White House does not appreciate the anxiety that middle-class Americans fear about health care — whether they will keep what they have, whether they will have enough or whether their last years will be spent in painful, degrading poverty….
More and more Obama is being likened to Lyndon Johnson, with Afghanistan becoming his Vietnam. Maybe. But the better analogy is to Jimmy Carter, particularly the president analyzed by James Fallows in a 1979 Atlantic magazine article, “The Passionless Presidency.” “The central idea of the Carter administration is Jimmy Carter himself,” Fallows wrote. And what is the central idea of the Obama presidency? It is change. And what is that? It is Obama himself.
Unlike Carter, Obama brims with energy and charm. His brilliance is not brittle but supple. Yet, another teachable moment is upon him and he seems lost. The country needs health care reform and a success in Afghanistan, and both efforts are going in the wrong direction. The message needs to be fixed and so, with some tough introspection, does the man.
Just how badly has the Democratic health reform effort failed? Democratic Senator Feingold (WI) is predicting no health care bill before Christmas, and when he said the most likely outcome is nothing being done at all, he was met with cheers from the voters at his town hall meeting.
As the Lakeland Times reports:
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold told a large crowd gathered for a listening session in Iron County last week there would likely be no health care bill before the end of the year – and perhaps not at all.
It was an assessment Feingold said he didn’t like, but the prospect of no health care legislation brought a burst of applause from a packed house of nearly 150 citizens at the Mercer Community Center.
“Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens,” Feingold said. “The divisions are so deep. I never seen anything like that.”
Feingold reiterated his appraisal a bit later.
“We’re headed in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that’s unfortunate,”….
Senator Feingold is simply stating what polls are now saying: the public now wants Congress not to act, to, in fact, do nothing at all on health care. No reform. President Obama has moved the public to want to do nothing at all.
President Obama and Congress could always start working on the economy and lowering the now $1.5 trillion deficit, which are at the top of the American voter’s priority list.
But that would mean President Obama would have to walk away from his health care reform effort.
President Obama may have very little choice in the matter, here is a brief summary of Obama’s administration’s own economic estimates, recently released:
U.S. unemployment will surge to 10 percent this year and the budget deficit will be $1.5 trillion next year, both higher than previous Obama administration forecasts because of a recession that was deeper and longer than expected, White House budget chief Peter Orszag said. The Office of Management and Budget forecasts a weaker economic recovery than it saw in May, as the gross domestic product shrinks 2.8 percent this year…
Acting on voters priorities is a radical notion to the President. Perhaps since his own priorities of the Cap and Tax bill and health care reform and expanding the war in Afghanistan have not worked out so well, the President may have to actually work to reduce the deficit and shore up the economy.