The media is all a-twitter (pun intended) over touting the demise of the Public Option in the Health Care Reform legislation, as if it were sliding toward the edge of the negotiating table ready to dribble over like a melted popcicle. On the news I must have seen the clip where the President calls the plan just a “sliver” of the whole reform effort a dozen times. Pundits are in full obituary mode. Even the New York Times, a staunch supporter of the Public Option, is grief stricken. Bob Herbert, in his column for August 18th, wrote,
The hope of a government-run insurance option is all but gone. So there will be no effective alternative for consumers in the market for health coverage, which means no competitive pressure for private insurers to rein in premiums and other charges. (Forget about the nonprofit cooperatives. That’s like sending peewee footballers up against the Super Bowl champs.)
It’s over. The insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank. The clink of expensive brandy snifters raised in countless boardroom toasts is reverberating across the country. The corporate jets are warming up on the tarmac, ’cause it’s fiesta time for Big Medicine!
Have you heard Rep. John Boehner or Sen. Mitch McConnell whine about anything significant this week? Have the shout-down disrupters in the Town Hall meetings gotten more strident? Are the “experts” on Fox and CNN actually agreeing? I even heard a PBS contributor use the term “panic” when referring to the president’s health care strategy. Is Tom DeLay going to be on Dancing with the Stars? I mean, if Tom DeLay “The Hammer” who almost certainly has been consulting with his Republican clients about how to kill the Public Option, has time to, well, uh, trip the light fantastic on national TV, can there be any hope? UPDATE: Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” just named DeLay, “Twinkle Toes.” I’m not kidding–check the transcript on MSNBC for 8/18.
Hmm. Well, I’m suspicious. You see, in the days before the election (when Extreme Thinkover was still in its infancy) I posted a blog stating one of the most difficult things Americans would have to come to terms with, if Barack Obama won, would be the presence of a very smart president as president:
Make no mistake, this will be a shock to Americans if Barack Obama is elected, not because he is African-American, a Democrat, a liberal, or in the eyes of some, the Anti-Christ, but because he is smart. That’s right, I said it plain and simple. Barack Obama is a smart person, well educated, and has an intrinsic capacity for deep analytical thinking.
Now, I knew this would be a shock to Republicans, who had basked in George Bush’s inability to compose a coherent sentence, and Dick Cheney’s ability to snarl his victims into stone-like fear for the past eight years. I, however, underestimated how much of a shock this would be to Democrats, who voted for Obama. But I admit now that the Democrats in Congress are as much in shock. They can’t seem to figure out to do with their success, AND a president that thinks complex thoughts and speaks, well, college-level English.
Back to health care reform. I’m just thinking. Why would a really smart politician like Barack Obama just waffle around on one of the key ideas of his health care plan? Yes, I know, he can’t control all the political variables, and having majorities in both houses of Congress takes a while to get the kinks worked out.
So, is the dust-up over the Public Option the result of an inexperienced president, a disorganized president, a whatever president–panicked, sold out, capitulating?
Like John Stewart said, “I can’t tell if you’re a Jedi and ten steps ahead of this thing?”
Or maybe is this president well aware of this game of chess played on a shifting, multi-dimensional board, with changing rules and players, and working out his strategies many moves in advance, letting the different gambits and forays play themselves out, knowing full well what his end game will be and when to pull that trigger?
Capitulation or a calculated feint by a very smart man, who happens to hold the highest office in the land and is determined to get what he wants?
My take: Jedi Master and the Public Option: Yes.