Time Warns President He Could Lose Healthcare Battle

July 17th, 2009 7:35 AM

It looks like Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty is getting scared that we could be losing the healthcare battle so she is urging Obama to “step in” and fix it all for us. Why, only the dulcet tones of The One could save us all from… wait, isn’t this whole thing his deal in the first place?

What is curious with this piece is the fact that Tumulty seems oblivious to the possibility that if healthcare is failing to win the day, that failure could be squarely laid at the president’s feet. After all, it is his campaign promise and his “highest priority” that we tackle healthcare. Yet Tumulty, while mildly scolding Obama for not being hands on enough, is all too willing to blame everyone but Obama for the floundering of the debate.

Tumulty sees all the “special interests” as muddying the waters while praising Obama’s initial hands off style on guiding lawmakers. “Until quite recently,” Tumulty says, “that flexible approach appeared to be working pretty well. Congressional chairmen usually prefer having control to being told what to do by the White House.”

Her last bit is true because the simple fact is that presidents don’t write legislation, Congress does. Presidents can only suggest and arm twist. But they don’t write legislation.

Still, she is worried that things are bogging down.

But new fault lines are opening up everywhere you look. Liberals are worried that Obama is going squishy on including a strong, government-run "public option" among the health-care choices available to Americans. Conservatives are warning that the legislation won't do enough to control health costs. Rural lawmakers are complaining that proposed Medicare cuts will fall too hard on their states. The two sides of the abortion debate are tussling over whether the procedure should be covered under the plan. And those are just the arguments going on among Democrats.

“It's all a sign that the season for hard decisions has arrived,” Tumulty gravely warns. What she says next is revealing.

The next hurdle is to get a bill through the House and Senate by the time Congress adjourns for its August break. White House officials concede that missing that deadline could throw the entire exercise off track, because it would give opponents a month to undermine it. Says one: "If we don't get it done before the August recess, it will be subject to a lot of attack" when lawmakers are home among their constituents.

Gee, why would Congressmen be so afraid to hear from their constituents, eh? Is it because the lowly people might not approve of Obama’s plans to steal away nearly 20% of the nation’s economy and place it under government control? Yeah, why would Congress want to hear that?

Regardless, Tumulty wants Obama to take a strong hand and make it all happen despite that those lowly voters might disapprove.

If the President wants to accelerate the process, he may have to abandon his original hands-off strategy and start getting more deeply involved.

Tumulty is still worried, though, that the whole healthcare deal could fall through. Her last line seems to reveal her worst fears here.

The question is, Will there be health-care reform at the end of it?

No wonder she is urging the president to hurry up and get more involved. Don’t want a good emergency going to waste and all.

A last point: another curious thing about this is that Tumulty has had to let slip the Old Media meme that Obama is the man in charge. In order to cajole a government take over of healthcare -- apparently her personal desire -- she’s had to admit that Obama has spent his entire short time as president making pronouncements one after the other yet leaving the actual work to be done by everyone else. Obama has not himself gotten directly involved in much of anything since taking the oath. He moves from one grand announcement to the next without actually doing much groundwork to assure that what he is pronouncing is ready to hit the ground running.

Tumulty seems torn in this piece. Can she blame Obama for not “being there”? Can she scold him for not being hands on enough when he is supposed to be the most energetic president since FDR? Yet, she badly wants healthcare reform and to do so she has to wrestle with Obama’s failure thus far to force it down our throats.

Poor girl. She’s in a dilemma, for sure.

(Photo credit: pbs.org)