By Robert S. Becker
August 25, 2009
What does the President believe in – and when did he stop believing it? Is he a conservative liberal – or, increasingly, a liberal conservative? If everything is negotiable, what restrains this “devout non-ideologue,” as an aide aptly depicted President Obama, from taking non-ideology to empty extremes? What happens when an Administration packed with process pragmatists (where any bill will do) forsakes its ardent, prescient base? If there’s no policy hill to die on, anything goes – and the wobbly public option is what’s going away.
That progressives have been correct – nailing unjustified, pre-emptive invasions, torture, secret prisons, rogue mercenaries, or endless Bush crimes – still doesn’t shield them from Democratic, bigwig slap downs. Senior White House staff expressed shock its left-leaning base cares deeply about shredded health reform proposals, even actual cost-containment. “Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise,” says Paul Krugman, speaking for millions. The problem goes beyond Administration waffling, but waffling on waffling: once a line in the sand, the public option appears an unsteady mirage – now you see it, now you don’t.
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