Hesitating in the face of volley fire.

Back in the day – which is to say, the days before reliable automatic weapons were present on the battlefield – armies relied pretty heavily on volley fire and rigid discipline to win battles.  There were two reasons for this: first, of course, the more missiles you have in the air at once, the harder it is to get out of their way.  The second reason was psychological: charging in the face of steady fire – even essentially unaimed fire – is extremely difficult.  Armies and their generals simply had to accept that there would be casualties, and that the proper response was to keep moving forward and return fire.  So it usually came down to determination versus determination.  Sometimes the one side broke and ran… and sometimes one side simply hesitated in the face of a sustained series of volleys.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but that can happen when your troops are braver than your generals.  Or when your generals simply don’t know what to do next, and don’t have the capacity to improvise.

Why am I bringing this up?

The White House privately anticipates health care talks to slip into February — past President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address — and then plans to make a “very hard pivot” to a new jobs bill, according to senior administration officials.


Internally, White House aides are plunging into a 2010 plan calling for an early focus on creating jobs, especially in the energy sector, along with starting a conversation about deficit reduction measures, the administration officials said.

Ed Morrissey has more.  Bottom line: this will probably work out well enough for the President, but only because he has over two years before he has to start worrying about getting re-elected.  Democratic Members of Congress have eleven months, and they’ll need every second of it to handle the problem of their unpopular support of an unpopular health care rationing bill.  Put another way: either health care is an immediate crisis, or it is not.  If it is the crisis that we were told, then the President needs to get his fellow-Democrats in Congress to press on through and pass something with the urgency that they’ve been claiming all along was necessary.  If it is not the crisis that we were told, then the President needs to pull his fellow-Democrats out of this particular fight before retreat becomes impossible (but rout does not).  Letting Democrats in Congress take fire on health care rationing in the same way that they’ve been taking fire on cap-and-trade will simply get more of them fired in November for no good reason*.

But that assumes that the President is loyal enough to his party to take the personal hit to what’s left to his reputation for competence.

Moe Lane

*Which is fine with me, of course.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.