According to the Wall Street Journal, Rahm Emanuel has "shrugged off" liberal opposition to the Senate healthcare bill. Although one liberal senator (Bernie Sanders of Vermont) says he will not vote for the measure, Emanuel says "[t]here are no liberals left to get."
Emanuel's comment indicates that the White House will not lobby for the reinsertion of favored liberal provisions like the public plan and Medicare buy-in. According to many published reports, Emanuel himself instructed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to remove the provisions from the bill under the guise of appeasing conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman. But as several commentators have argued, this position undoubtedly reflects the will of the White House, which could certainly explain why President Obama has remained stealth during most of the debates over healthcare reform.
Rahm's statement also declares "victory" against the political Left. He feels that he does not need to negotiate with liberals in Congress because they will not make the critical "mistake" of failing to support the healthcare bill. But Emanuel is forgetting one important thing about recent political events. Liberal members of Congress did not elect President Obama. Instead, liberal voters, along with a coalition of Independents, secured Obama's victory.
By reducing the struggle over healthcare reform to an internal Congressional battle, Emanuel ignores the very activists whose work was instrumental in Obama's election victory. If this behavior continues, Emanuel will probably have to dust off his resume in 2012. Arrogance is very ugly. Good luck!
For the record: I never trusted Emanel or Obama. I still do not.
Update: People have emailed me asking "what do you mean you did not trust Obama?" Here is what I mean.
I did not believe that hype that portrayed Obama as transcending politics. Instead, I viewed him as a politician. Rather than doing things calculated to achieve a liberal transformation of society, Obama would and has done things calculated to achieve his own reelection -- which means doing some things for his base, striving for the middle, and giving monetary prizes to corporate interests.
In the absence of sustained social movement and voter pressure, even liberal-leaning presidents will aim for the center or right. Obama is not different. So, I did not join the liberal mania that portrayed him as a folk hero of leftwing politics. I have written on this many times. See, e.g., here and here. That is what I meant about not trusting Obama.