There's no small amount of anger being directed at President Obama over the death of the public option, some form of national health insurance program to compete with private insurers. Take, for example, Glenn Greenwald,
Of all the posts I wrote this year, the one that produced the most vociferous email backlash -- easily -- was this one from August, which examined substantial evidence showing that, contrary to Obama's occasional public statements in support of a public option, the White House clearly intended from the start that the final health care reform bill would contain no such provision and was actively and privately participating in efforts to shape a final bill without it.Greenwald then contends that Obama gave up the public option early, in order to buy off the insurance industry and perhaps to get it to financially support the Democratic Party.
I think Greenwald is correct in part - that President Obama has never viewed a public option as essential for healthcare reform. But what if he did? Obama could have twisted every arm in the Senate and he would not have come up with sixty votes, so why should he have wasted his energy on a doomed public option (and inevitably being accused of 'failing' by both the left-wing advocates of the public option and the entire Republican establishment when it didn't happen), when he could focus on things that could actually be achieved. Also, this appears to be misplaced anger - the public option died in the Senate some time ago. What Lieberman just killed off was part of a proposed compromise to advocates of a public option - the expansion of Medicare.
Greenwald alleges that the White House pressured freshmen Members of Congress on a war funding bill, linking to an article that notes that the White House denied the charge. But even accepting it as true, which of the Senators who were intent on killing the public option is a freshman? Which would shiver in his boots at the idea that "they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House" if they don't accede to the President? Sorry, but when you're scrambling for sixty votes every time an important issue comes up, and when you're dealing with Senators who don't need your help to get reelected, threats like that are apt to make you look silly and lose credibility.
Moreover, it does appear that President Obama has been doing his best to keep the party on track to pass a bill that he believes may work. He has also clearly embraced the principle of progress, not perfection. Think about it: A perfect healthcare reform bill would include provisions that have never even been on the table.
Joseph freakin' Lieberman - it's hard to think of a politician more deserving of being kicked to the curb by the White House, but reports are quite to the contrary - that up to now Obama has lobbied against any serious consequence to Lieberman because he supposedly can provide that sixtieth vote (that he somehow never seems to deliver when the need is critical). As much as I want to see Lieberman kicked to the curb, by all appearances he's such a petty, vindictive small-minded man that to do so now may well result in there never again being more than 59 Senate votes for healthcare reform - even the hobbled remnants Lieberman has deemed acceptable for debate (but still hasn't promised to support in a final vote).