In an Associated Press story hot off the presses we are told that when it comes to arguably the most ambitious public policy goal of the last 50 years–comprehensive health reform–the leader of the free world has a role to play. That’s not surprising. What is surprising is that his role is not to lead the effort, but rather to “weigh in when it’s important to weigh in.” Really?!
Call me naive, but I expect the President of the United States to do more than just throw his two cents in when they pass the plate to collect ideas, especially when the topic is a part of the platform on which he campaigned for the office–and the primary reason that this author voted for him.
It’s quite clear that Obama favors the public option, but he’s now going to take a backseat in the debate while Congress works to reach a compromise. Is that really how one stands up for what they believe is right? It’d be one thing if Obama didn’t claim the public option was a priority. Then we could just agree to disagree. What I take issue with is his championing the idea rhetorically, but not pursuing it tenaciously.
Now, to be fair, maybe this is his version of “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Perhaps Rahm Emanuel is that stick. If so, then there will be a great deal of compromise reached in back room meetings, with serious threat leveling and arm bending. If that’s the case, then my criticisms are leveled prematurely, and it’s best that such ugly politics are kept out of the public eye–lest they tarnish the President’s approval ratings. Then again, if everything the President does is carried out behind the scenes, will he be able to make as strong of a claim to victory should health reform pass? As with most of my other musings, I suppose that only time will tell.