Gibbs to media: You contrived this entire “public option” debate!

posted at 4:30 pm on August 19, 2009 by Allahpundit

Via Breitbart. Ace thinks this is nutty, and it is — the firestorm exploded because of the Conrad/Sebelius double whammy on Sunday, not any contrivance — but The One’s fear of the media lining up with progressives to put the screws to him on a public option isn’t that nutty. Yeah, he wants a government alternative to private insurance, but the more the press pushes it, the more emboldened House liberals will be and the greater the risk that he won’t be able to find a compromise between them and the Blue Dogs. Result: The bill implodes, which is the one true Obama nightmare scenario. Today’s WaPo even quotes senior White House officials whining about the leftist backlash:

“I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,” said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We’ve gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don’t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform.”

“It’s a mystifying thing,” he added. “We’re forgetting why we are in this.”

Another top aide expressed chagrin that a single element in the president’s sprawling health-care initiative has become a litmus test for whether the administration is serious about the issue.

“It took on a life of its own,” he said.

Indeed it did: Per Rasmussen’s latest, support for a bill without a public option is down 19 points among Democrats since Sunday. If the media were truly siding with Obama against the left, they’d be spending less time on the intraparty war and more time writing puff pieces like this about health-care co-ops, to make a watered-down bill seem more palatable. As it is, suddenly he’s got skirmishes breaking out between Blue Dogs in the House, who claim there’ll never be 60 votes in the Senate for a government plan, and Harry Reid, who’s waving around the threat of reconciliation to force a bill through on a simple majority vote (whether that’s feasible or not). The lower Obama’s numbers sink, the more the Blue Dogs dig in; the more ink is spilled on the public option, the more progressives dig in. Exit question: Who blinks?


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