What's happening to us? What do liberals have to do to turn this tide around? Barack Obama had a historic opportunity to achieve something truly worthwhile with overwhelming popular support for a Democratic agenda. And he blew it. I'm sorry, but he did:
Digby this morning (emphasis mine):
All day long, I kept hearing the argument that pro-choice Democrats are going to have to compromise because Pelosi just doesn't have the votes otherwise. But the truth is that she doesn't have the votes without the pro-choice caucus either. Why isn't it just as reasonable to say that Stupak and his crowd should compromise? I hear people say over and over again that Democrats will prove they can't govern if they hold the line on this or that provision and risk tanking the bill. But these Stupak Democrats did it --- and they won. Indeed, many people are hailing the outcome as a triumph of legislative maneuvering. (All except for the women of course, but they're on their own.)It's absolutely appalling to me that women's access to healthcare should be sacrificed in order to pass a bill that makes baby steps toward achieving something that has overwhelming popular support: universal access to healthcare! What's up with that?
The dynamics working against liberals are fairly obvious: they are the ones who want to help a whole bunch of people in dire straits and nobody else gives a damn. That makes them weaker in the final stages because everyone knows they want it more (that people are desperate) so they will not risk getting nothing at all when so many are suffering. The people who are willing to walk away always have more power in a negotiation.
So, knowing that, why in the hell do they go into every discussion having already given away everything but their bottom line? Especially when the only people with whom they are negotiating are ostensibly on their own team, where presumably the leadership and the president have some extra sway? If there was ever a case for the liberals to go in with guns blazing, demanding repeal of the Hyde Amendment, demanding single payer, demanding huge tax increases on the wealthy, demanding open border access to the health care system (which some countries have.) Then they would have had something to work with.
Instead they went in with the tried and true "don't make trouble" strategy assuring everyone who would listen that they had no intention of upsetting the status quo or causing "distractions" and practically apologizing for even asking for universal coverage. In the end they ended up actually rolling back their position on a matter of fundamental principle. And it sounds like that still isn't going to be enough.
It's quite possible Dems will lose - and lose badly - in 2010. A bad economy, failure to deliver a recognizable good health care plan, and the determination that most of the people who vote for you don't deserve proper medical treatment, could all hurt Democrats at the polls. But good news for Republicans? People still hate them.Small comfort, that.
UPDATE: Obama apparently insisting that he WILL NOT - not no way, not no how - sign a bill that isn't "deficit neutral". Whoopie. Good to know that he listens to the likes of Fred Hiatt.
Jill has some thoughts too.