Devastating, not because it reflects some flaw in The One’s strategy — there was no way Joementum would have played ball on a public plan so why waste time begging him? — but because it feeds the developing narrative on the left that Obama himself is chiefly responsible for shattering their dream. No less a progressive icon than Russ Feingold pointed the finger yesterday, an accusation quickly trumpeted by the left’s favorite news site. Now here comes their archenemy to say, yeah, Feingold’s pretty much right:
“Well, no. I think I got pressure from the president to be for health care reform,” Lieberman said when asked by HuffPost about any pressure from the administration to support either the public option or the Medicare buy-in. “I’d have to think about this, but I didn’t really have direct input from the White House on this.”
He added that Nancy-Ann DeParle, a top administration health care aide, downplayed the public option’s significance early in the debate.
“Early on, Nancy-Ann DeParle came in, I told her my argument, I said, ‘Nancy, I don’t remember this ever being in the presidential campaign debates — or discussions. I don’t mean just the debates. And she said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. We went back and checked and there’s one mention in the bottom of a paragraph of an Obama presidential policy statement on health care where it’s mentioned as an option.’ But most of the negotiation I had on that was with Senator Reid.”…
“Most of my dealings were with Senator Reid until the very end, that Sunday, when I went in to his office and Rahm Emanuel was there,” said Lieberman. Rahm, said Lieberman, “was relatively quiet.”
As I write this, there are “Fire Rahm” petitions circulating on the left; just this morning, Joe Scarborough predicted he’d be gone by the end of next year. He’s a useful scapegoat but it’s The One who’s forever been accused of “voting present” at tough moments (witness his passivity about the stimulus earlier this year), so why the stretch to blame Emanuel? Obama’s strategy going into this was to avoid Clinton’s mistake by letting Congress take the lead in hopes that whatever developed organically would have a better chance of passing than a bill that was forcefed by the White House. And … he was right: Something is going to pass, a “starter home,” in Harkin’s words, which they can build upon in the decades to come until they’ve got the socialized-medicine mansion of their dreams. The left wants its mansion now, but Obama no longer has the strength to build it. He’s been losing political muscle for months as the public soured on the bill, even back when the public option was on the table, to the point where he’s now too weak to pressure anyone, really. Which is another way of saying that the left still can’t accept that the bill is unpopular. So instead they’ll blame The One for blowing it and some of them will stay home in protest next November. Works for me.
Update: Since we’re busy stoking lefty antagonism towards Obama, let’s pile on with this clip from Ed Schultz’s show accusing the White House of trying to keep ObamaCare-hating liberals off the air at MSNBC. Any reason to believe that Schultz is right about the administration e-mailing Scarborough during his show to complain? Why, yes — they’ve done it before. So here’s the state of play at the DNC’s home channel: A hard lefty is ripping a Democratic president for leaning on a Republican host, while inviting other hard lefties onto his own show to rip one of his Democratic colleagues at the network. Awesome. Click the image to listen.