Obama is still campaigning

Throughout the past year and more so in recent times, some analysts have said Barack Obama is much more skilled at campaigning than governing.  He likes to take issues directly to the people and whip up emotional reaction in the crowds through commanding rhetoric.

But that routine has grown more transparent. Just recently, MSNBC noted Obama is trying to tap into the anger his administration has caused and lead the call for change. Even though what the people want is change from his administration’s politics.

Now, he’s campaigning again, taking his health care reform plan to the people and trying to whip up support. But as usual, he does this by blaming others for the people’s discontent and…leading the call for change.

Let’s take a look at this

Trying to rally the public and put more pressure on Congress to act quickly, President Obama on Monday took to the road to castigate insurance companies and urged voters to lobby for passage of the healthcare overhaul….

Obama argued that his healthcare proposal trumped politics.

Sure. Just say it convincingly and it will be so. (Oddly, the advice to Dorothy comes to mind….”Just tap your heels three times and say ‘I want to go home’…”)

“I don’t know how passing healthcare will play politically, but I do know that it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “If you share that belief, I want you to stand with me and fight with me. And I ask you to help us get us over the finish line these next few weeks.

Okay, look….

Virtually nobody is saying health care is the wrong thing to do. Let’s be honest. We universally share that belief. But note the lack of specifics in this appeal to emotion by the community organizer-in-chief.

“The need is great,” he said. “The opportunity is here. Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp.”

When read as text in print and not heard with the dramatic delivery and staged backdrops, it’s just general blanket rhetoric. And he’s got plenty of that.

“The time for talk is over,” Obama said. “We need to see where people stand. And we need all of you to help us win that vote. So I need you to knock on doors. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up the phone. When you hear an argument by the water cooler and somebody is saying this or that about it, say, no, no, no, no, hold on a second.

What? Oh, he’s whipping up emotions again. Forget facts. They just bog things down.

And we need you to make your voices heard all the way in Washington, D.C.

No kidding.

“They need to hear your voices because right now the Washington echo chamber is in full throttle. It is as deafening as it’s ever been. And as we come to that final vote, that echo chamber is telling members of Congress, wait, think about the politics — instead of thinking about doing the right thing,” he said.

No, the people with whom this overhaul is so unpopular are crying ‘do the right thing’. It’s the party leadership voices echoing through the chambers that are warning members to think about the politics.

The White House has said the president would like to see the House act before he leaves for Asia on March 18, but House leaders have indicated they would be happy if that chamber acts before Easter break at the end of the month.

Just get it done, they demand. Because it’s critical to the president’s legacy.

Mr. Obama’s closing arguments are lending credence to rank-and-file fears that they’re getting played. Democrats are telling reporters that Mr. Obama has been telling them in private meetings that his Presidency, and the party’s claim to any achievement, rests on passing a bill. With barely any mention of substance, the right bill is any bill, by any political means necessary.

Even false promises.

Then there’s House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s far-fetched suggestion to Mr. [Bart] Stupak and the antiabortion [pro-life] bloc that Democrats can take care of their concerns in a third bill, which everyone knows will fail in the Senate if it even comes to the floor.

In this wilderness of political mirrors, anything is possible.

But because he sealed the deal on the campaign trail before, we will see Mr. Obama there again, as long as it takes. Or works.

At the beginning of the day

Before the health care ‘summit’ began Thursday morning, there was plenty of media skepticism over whether Washington politicians, in the Congress and the administration, can actually put bitter partisanship aside and finally and responsibly deliberate over the people’s business. Consensus is that it’s doubtful.

The Financial Times captures the ideas pretty well in this brief editorial.

Tuesday’s meeting of Barack Obama and congressional leaders from both parties to discuss healthcare is, first and foremost, a political show – but do not underestimate its importance. Badly needed reform hangs in the balance, and so do the wider prospects for Mr Obama’s presidency.

The theatrical aspect of this televised “summit” is apparent. There is no will on either side to compromise. The Republicans are intent on blocking comprehensive reform. The president’s new proposal, on the other hand, merges bills recently passed by partisan majorities in the House and Senate, offering no concession to conservative complaints. Each party simply aims to embarrass the other.

Shamefully true. And they make the sorry point that it is also “sadly” true that partisan tactical moves on camera in front of the nation will wind up being the measure of success. Like how well Mr. Obama can obscure Democrats’ plan to make a power play, or can ‘expose Republicans’ failure to offer an alternative’.

Which leads FT to this conclusion:

Outreach to Republicans on matters such as medical liability reform would improve the president’s proposal, lend it a bipartisan flavour and impress many voters. Mr Obama should attempt that today. Unfortunately, he knows that this approach risks worsening the Democrats’ splits, and would most likely elicit no new Republican support. And so the show goes on: a deeply dispiriting struggle, with no resolution yet in sight.

We’ll see, at the end of the day.

‘The persistent issue of abortion’

The pivotal Washington health care summit is about many things and much of it is political posturing. Maybe most. By both parties. What’s getting little attention is the persistent issue of abortion at the core of both House and Senate versions, and how the policians in Congress are handling it.

The day before the much-hyped event, at least the WSJ re-framed the picture.

Abortion was one of the final matters to be resolved in December when the Senate created its version of the health-care bill, with a carefully crafted compromise that left neither side in the debate happy. If a final bill is to clear the House, Democrats will have to find a way to finesse the problem again. One idea being floated involves inserting more-restrictive language later into a spending bill.

At issue is whether health-insurance policies people would buy with federal subsidies established by the legislation could offer abortion coverage.

 When the House debated its health bill last year, antiabortion Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) won language prohibiting insurers from selling plans that cover abortion to any person receiving the subsidies. With their votes, the bill passed 220-215.

The Senate language is less restrictive. It allows insurers to offer abortion coverage as long as customers write a separate check to pay for it, an exercise meant to assure that no federal money goes toward abortion services. That provision was a compromise aimed at satisfying Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the last Democratic holdout.

And we all know how that turned out.

But Mr. Stupak said the Senate version left too big a loophole, while abortion-rights supporters argued that in practice, it would be too cumbersome for insurance companies to collect separate checks and they wouldn’t cover abortion at all.

Note the langauge in the reporting, “anti-abortion Democrats”….”abortion-rights supporters”. Cue the readers…”anti” is bad, “rights” are good, right?

The WSJ has bought into the media style book that changed designations to change public opinion.

Let’s think critically: If you can’t assure citizens that the government won’t pay to end human life, how can you buy into negotiations supposedly assuring that the government will pay to advance the health of all citizens?