Mr. Zorn's linked column decries the efforts of the vocal naysayers who have (so far, at least) seemingly turned the tide of public opinion against health care reform. But even Mr. Zorn is obliged to concede, "There is as yet no one plan for proponents to defend, so every idea remains an attack target."
It is said that every general prepares for the last war. This is why, presumably, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
These familiar military aphorisms apparently apply to politicians as well.
Mr. Obama was anxious to avoid the Tablets-From-Mt.-Sinai approach that doomed Hillarycare in the 1990s. So he made a point of convening experts from a wide range of disciplines and secured consensus that reform of our health care system was imperative.
Then he got lazy.
Instead of doing the work of leading the country toward a consensus plan, building on the White House meetings, Mr. Obama delegated the process of writing the actual bill to Democratic True Believers in the House of Representatives, many of whom had been advocating a single-payer (O Canada!) system for years. It is one thing to show some willingness to modify a plan in conformance with political necessity; it is quite another to outsource the making of the plan in the first place and promise to claim ownership of any proposal that survives.
To make matters worse, Mr. Obama insisted on a unrealistically short timetable for adoption of his plan, which wasn't his plan at all, and was -- despite the dog and pony shows at the outset -- no more inclusive than the process was which resulted in Hillarycare.
In his Tribune column this morning, John Kass writes:
Americans wanted some break in ridiculously high health-care costs. They deserved a break. They were primed for it, with Obama promising and promising and news story after story during the campaign buttressing his position, all about how somebody got laid off and contracted a disease, but they couldn't afford the insurance premiums and lost their home.The people of this country, I believe, do want something done with health care -- but I don't believe there is as yet any true consensus on what that something should be. The True Believers on the Left do want something very specific. But they aren't leading; they are dictating. They are controlling the Administration's side of the "debate" because of the absence of leadership from the top: Mr. Obama, who signaled a willingness just last weekend to jettison the so-called 'public option,' now has retreated in response to blowback from True Believers. Mending his fences in this way may help Mr. Obama get some sort of bill through the House this year... but what doth it matter if he gains the House but loses the Senate?
The sad fact is, that really happens. People have lost their homes. And folks wanted something done.
But Obama's people turned it into a disaster. It got so bad that the White House encouraged Americans to rat their neighbors out on that official White House rat line, which begged Obama-loving Americans to tell the president when health-care opponents put out "disinformation."
Meanwhile the Republicans stagger around in increasing irrelevance, mumbling about "death panels" and "tort reform."
And we elected these people!