Newsweek's Romano: Obama 'Too Reasonable' to Pass Health Care
So posits Newsweek's Andrew Romano, who notes that Obama could have gone wholesale-government-takeover on health care and a number of other legislative proposals during the past year. He opted for mandates and regulations rather than single-payer and hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful stimulus spending instead of a trillion plus.
"Obama has chosen to support what he believes to be the best possible proposal instead of what he believes to be the best imaginable proposal," Romano states. Reasonableness in this context is simply a moderation in the president's march towards statism. He COULD be sprinting towards socialized medicine. Instead, his movement towards government control is more of a leisurely stroll. Unfortunately for the president the American people have rejected that approach as well.
...maybe it's time to ask whether "reasonable" presidential leadership is an inherently flawed proposition. For many Americans the most appealing thing about candidate Obama was his rational cast of mind. After eight impractical, divisive years of George W. Bush, voters welcomed the prospect of a less ideological, more unifying presidency. Reason, the thinking went, would beget results that most people could get behind.Amazingly, Romano seems totally unconcerned with the fact that the American people reject where legislation currently stands, regardless of how we got here. So his plan for bringing ObamaCare around to a state of political feasibility still ignores reality.
It hasn't really worked out that way. In pushing for his biggest initiatives to date—the stimulus package and health-care reform—Obama has chosen to support what he believes to be the best possible proposal instead of what he believes to be the best imaginable proposal. His economic adviser, Christina Romer, initially recommend a $1.2 trillion stimulus bill, but when his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said "it would be impossible to move legislation of that size" through Congress, Obama slashed the sticker price to $787 billion. Health care was more of the same. After calling himself "a proponent of a single-payer universal-health-care program"—and later advocating for a public option—the president wound up backing a private-market plan that's nearly identical to the one that GOP leaders such as Bob Dole put forth in 1993.
Obama's first year was hardly a failure. He passed legislation large and small and made far more progress on health-care reform than any of his predecessors had. But the results of his rationalism—a stimulus package that's considered bloated on the right and insufficient on the left; a health-care bill that's stalled in Congress, despite a commanding Democratic majority—have become deeply controversial. His approval rating, meanwhile, rarely cracks 50 percent, and his political capital is largely spent. "Obama won the election by being the rational, professorial type," says Sean Wilentz, the liberal Princeton historian. "It's still unclear, however, that what worked for him as a candidate can work for him as president."
So the question is: would Obama be in better shape politically if he'd been a little less willing to adapt himself to the world, and a little more persistent in trying to adapt the world to himself?…
what if the president had tried to … loudly [advocate] for a proposal that he knew would never pass, like the public option, which he supported in theory but refused to fight for, or even a single-payer system, which he rejected outright? The reaction would've been the same: the GOP still would've accused Obama of orchestrating a government takeover of health care, the tea partiers still would've showed up at town-hall meetings with shotguns. But at least he would've had some room to operate. Taking note of the (rather predictable) outrage on the right, Obama could have cut a deal with Republicans to eliminate all government involvement, either by dropping the public option or by replacing the single-payer system with private-insurance exchanges; he might have included tort reform in the package as well.
Obama hasn't "adapted" to the people he is trying to govern, and they sure haven't adapted to him. If either scenario were the case, the President wouldn't be endorsing back-door schemes to shove unpopular legislation down the Senate's throat.
It's become a common refrain among the liberal media: Obama is just too darned levelheaded for the American people. The fearmongering wingnuts of the Republican Party have duped most Americans into opposing measured, effective legislation; the rest are too stupid to know what's good for them.
That elected officials might do their constituents' bidding seems wholly lost on the liberal press, Romano included.