Would President Hillary Clinton have run away from healthcare reform like President Obama is reportedly going to do? Yes, I went there, but someone needed to say it. Unfortunately, I only have time to pose the question and to offer a few comments at the moment. I will provide more analysis tomorrow.
What provokes this question? Well, for starters, the White House has been a lot less than passionate about healthcare reform. The blatantly wrong and deceitful Sarah Palin has a louder voice on the issue than President Obama.
Also, Obama campaigned on "unity," while Clinton campaigned as a "fighter." I always thought true reform required a fighter. That is certainly how it has occurred historically. But people without knowledge of history do not understand or appreciate this reality. Change does not come from chanting, and an election is not a social movement.
During the presidential campaign, many of Obama's most ardent supporters were young Web users, who enthusiastically spread his positions across the Internet and smacked down those who stood in their way. Where are they now? Hint: Summer break. Another question: Where are all of those "guy" Senators who endorsed Obama and called for Clinton to end her "divisive" campaign?
Today, the wires are reporting that Obama is prepared to drop a public plan option -- with hardly any public debate on the issue. Yet, Obama was supposed to bring us the "better-than-Clinton healthcare reform process. Say what you like about Clinton (and most people have strong opinions either way), but no one can honestly assert that she lacks passion on healthcare reform and a true drive regarding the subject.
Obama is apparently retreating because a "Gang of Six" members of the Senate Finance Committee decided to vote against it, and one of them, Sen. Kent Conrad -- a North Dakota Democrat -- has said that the Democrats lack the votes to get over a likely Republican filibuster. Conrad's "no" vote virtually guarantees this result.
It is unclear, however, why the public should give six members of one Senate committee -- not even the full committee -- so much power over this important issue. Healthcare is not in the committee's general area of expertise. Also, the Gang of Six includes the wretched Senator Charles Grassley, who along with Palin, has repeatedly described the medically sound "end-of-life counseling" provision as a death panel. The Gang of Six deleted the measure from the committee's proposed legislation. Medical professionals, however, back the provision. The six Senators did not act in good faith when they dropped this provision, which raises questions about their judgment and their honesty.
Obama has apparently ceded what he described as one of his primary policy goals to six conservatives (3 Democrats and 3 Republicans) without public debate and without much advocacy from the White House. Where I am sitting, unity looks like capitulation -- or a clever way of letting six men on one Senate committee take responsibility for killing a measure that Obama really did not want in the first place. Neither option looks that good.
PS: I had planned to offer only a "few" comments, but they turned into "several."