Want to know why the talk of “death panels” caught fire?  Don’t blame Sarah Palin, or even Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.  Rudy Giuliani tells Politico that the big problem with ObamaCare has been Barack Obama himself and the complete failure of leadership on his signature domestic policy:

Giuliani, in an exclusive interview with POLITICO prior to delivering the keynote address to the second annual GOPAC conference in Chicago, said the president has allowed fears of so-called “death panels” to persist because the White House has not taken a strong enough hand in crafting health care legislation.

“They never really studied the legislation that has been proposed,” Giuliani said. “The reason for the concern about the death panels is the legislation and the claim by the president that he will cover thirty to fifty million people without cost, and any time you say it’s without costs you raise a number of concerns.”

“It has to be with cost, because it costs money with every single person that is covered. That cost has to come from somewhere, which means something has to be cut,” the former Republican presidential candidate explained. “So where are you going to decrease services? There is a great fear that it will be by cutting off care for the elderly.”

Like former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin, Giuliani insisted that some of the president’s “closest advisors” have advocated for the creation of “death panels” to determine the course of treatment for some elderly and infirm Americans.

“If they’re concerned that they’ve created this massive groundswell that is worried about death panels, the only ones they have to blame are themselves,” Giuliani said of the Obama administration. “If they would like to end it, they should change the legislation, remove all these end of life panels, remove these czars and come clean with the American people that it is going to cost them a lot of money.”

The Obama administration has pushed three extraordinarily large bills in Congress in seven months, and a clear pattern has developed.  Obama sets himself as the salesman, but outsources the actual creation of the bill to Democratic leadership in Congress.  In each iteration, that Congressional leadership has become more isolated.  With Porkulus, they locked Republicans out of the effort to draft the stimulus bill, and with cap-and-trade, they ignored skeptics and moderates in their own party.  With ObamaCare, the hard-Left leadership in the House threatened to bypass the committee process altogether in order to keep the Blue Dogs from moderating the direction of reform.

A real leader would have taken control of the process and of the legislation.  Yet Obama seems content with his role as salesman instead of executive, speaking around the country in support of a bill that he hasn’t read.  The message appears to be, “I trust Nancy Pelosi,” but unfortunately for Obama, most of America does not share that sentiment.  Instead, he rebuts the most heated charges about the House bill with assurance that a Republican Senator wrote the clause in question, which turned out not just to be false but also patently ridiculous, since Senators do not write bills that originate in the House.  One might expect a high-school civics student to understand that much, but in Obama’s defense, no one in the media seemed to realize it, either.

It does demonstrate, however, the curious disengagement of a President who promised hope and change on the campaign trail.  He seems perfectly content to let Nancy Pelosi run his domestic policy with no interference or even any particular objection.  Of the big three agenda items Obama has pushed this year, one might have expected him to get most personally involved in health-care reform, the one issue that started with bipartisan support both in the Beltway and among the electorate.  Instead, he has floated above the fray and above the details and the hard work, and it shows.  When nuggets like Section 1233 come to light, the White House response has been late, incorrect, and usually more damaging than the initial criticisms.

Obama’s not leading.  He’s campaigning, and doing that on a float of ignorance about the very bill he touts.  Giuliani has it right — this is the President with no leadership clothes at all.