Obama Team was Suprised? Not buying it.



“And Democratic Party officials enlisted in the fight by the White House acknowledged in interviews that the growing intensity of the opposition to the president’s health care plans — within the last week likened on talk radio to something out of Hitler’s Germany, lampooned by protesters at Congressional town-hall-style meetings and vilified in television commercials — had caught them off guard and forced them to begin an August counteroffensive.”

via “We were a little surprised” | Philadelphia Inquirer | 08/11/2009 [c/o Susie Madrak of CrooksAndLiars.com].

Many folks left of center are handwringing about Obama’s Administration “over learning” from the Clinton White House mistakes. Those on the right are gleefully happy that Obama had let the debate be pulled into, what they feel, is a leftist ideas graveyard by the “evil” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the wicked Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Now this may be the new theme: the insurance industry and drug companies end around lobbying has fooled poor naive Obama and his hapless administration.

I doubt the genuineness of this surprise expressed by an official in the President’s White House or rather that the entire team is stunned. Rather, I think the Obama White House is letting the crazies open their mouths and prove their craziness. Obama likes to draw out the over aggressive. Let them ramble, anounce and bluster. Obama believes the arrogant big mouths and short sighted ideologues will always state their positions with absolute certainty of a “you always” accusation and “I never” virtue, all the while draping themselves with political tethers.

Far right ideologues lament the coming socialist state and that he must be stopped. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says things like Obama’s health care bill, which doesn’t exist, will use a “Death Panel” to determine that toddlers with Down Syndrome must die, immediately. The Media, for once, brushed her aside. Even then, the media fails to expose the simultaneous silliness and cynicism of Palin’s dog whistle attacks. While she says Obama-care will kill your less than A+ kids, at the time of her resignation, Alaska was actually the worst in the nation at administering health care for the elderly and those with disabilities:

State programs intended to help disabled and elderly Alaskans with daily life — taking a bath, eating dinner, getting to the bathroom — are so poorly managed, the state cannot assure the health and well-being of the people they are supposed to serve, a new federal review found.
The situation is so bad the federal government has forbidden the state to sign up new people until the state makes necessary improvements.

No other state in the nation is under such a moratorium, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
via Troubled Alaska health programs face federal restriction | Anchorage Daily News | LISA DEMER

The town hall screamers, mostly just a bunch of angry old folks, many of them jump right on past health care issues and attack Obama’s legitimacy. What about these new 15 minute fame flames, the town hall screamers? One requested that her GOP congressman keep “government hands off” off her Medicare. Another, while being allowed in front of Specter to speak said Specter was denying them the right to speak. Another asserted that he was sure, the IRS under Obama care will collect data from all citizens on behalf of said government (as if the Bush administration didn’t already authorize and do that when they rolled up Carnivore into the big brother bill to watch us all, the Patriot Act).

The Michael Steele’s and Dick Armey’s of the world see this fervor and these quotes and they probably think: let’s throw some party and lobbyist resources at these folks and encourage more people to show up at town halls and be mad as hell for no reason under the sun. More wood on the fire. And I think Obama is fine with that. Beltway GOP congressmen assert that Obama has gone too far and the American people are all happy with their healthcare because they see 15 Pennsylvanians from a conservative small rural town of Lebanon taking their turns screaming at Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA).

The more the crazies talk, and throw out specific, yet false statements about the direction health care is going, the easier it is for Democrats to defend the abstract legislative process that is actually taking place. Obama aww shucks these anecdotal diatribes and uses these sound bite screeds as a straw man in his health care town halls and interviews. Without any serious and principled opposition or alternative from the GOP, the Democrats in the Senate do have cover to get whatever they can pass in the senate and then get it to Obama’s desk.

I doubt the White House is surprised. In 1994, a bill couldn’t even get out of either House of Congress. Today, Pelosi was able to do what then Speaker Dick Gephardt couldn’t and the White House is essentially waiting for Senate Finance Committee to deliver a version that is palpable to blue dogs so that everything can be voted on, negotiated in conference committee and delivered to Obama’s desk. Many lefties, including me in some aspects are not 100% pleased with the process, but that’s how democracy is. Even then, this is a reform start:

Many people, including Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum, think these bills do some of the most important things of all in fixing the American health insurance system. Namely, they ensure that every insurance plan has to accept everyone at the same premiums regardless of prior health, that you can’t be kicked out of a plan for getting sick (or old, or anything), and that you can’t have a lifetime cap on payments. Universal community rating is probably the single most important reform of all, as it removes private insurers’ perverse incentives to make money by denying coverage to sick people.

via Matt Steinglass – Accumulating Peripherals – That slope just ain’t very slippery – True/Slant.

It don’t think its gonna be universal or single payer, but there will be some base improvements. 2009 is not 1994.