Patterico's Pontifications


ObamaCare: A failure of leadership

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:55 pm

[Posted by Karl]

ObamaCare is not dead, but TPM’s Josh Marshall now joins my half-joking assessment on Twitter that it is Undead. And I find myself agreeing with his estimation that “there’s nothing but Plan B” — the two-bill strategy — open to the Dems, but time is of the essence.

Top Dems do not seem to be on that page. House Dems’ hopes of settling on a strategy by the weekend seemed to fade, as they continue to sort through their options. Senate Dems are not rushing to assure the House that differences can be worked out through budget reconciliation. Indeed, Sen. Chuck Schumer said that “concerns about the political climate” make that plan less than appealing to some Democrats.

All of which brings me back to Josh Marshall:

My strongest sense however is not so much that decisions have been made to drop reform as that it’s something like a matter of survivors walking around — half dazed — after some sort of natural disaster. There is no plan. It actually seems highly, highly fluid and possibly susceptible to dramatic change if any of the key players assert themselves. But I’m not sure there’s anyone really ready to do that, unless rank-and-file Democrats and Reform supporters assert themselves.

What the dazed and confused Dems are not asking (yet) is: Why was there no plan? The possibility that a Scott Brown victory in the Senate race in Massachusetts could affect final passage of ObamaCare was being publicly discussed at least as early as January 8th. Within a week, DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen had boasted that “even before Massachusetts and that race was on the radar screen, we prepared for the process of using reconciliation.” The events of this week show that Van Hollen was bluffing, which leaves the question on the table. How did Pres. Obama, Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their staffs not have a contingency plan in place for a Brown win? Their membership is now beginning to wander all over the reservation, while pessimism and panic settle in.

All of the Dems who want to mock the defeated Martha Coakley for her political incompetence ought to be looking at their top leadership’s negligence at a crucial moment for their most cherished crusade. Those leaders may yet regroup. But this process has been one of the Dems’ near-religious fervor on this issue trumping public disapproval and the fact that the Dems lacked a consensus solution. That sheer political will is being sapped by the loss in Massachusetts. Unless their leaders can find that consensus solution soon, Democrats may find ObamaCare slipping from Undead to Dead.

Update: Less than an hour after I posted this at HotAir — with all of its pingbacks to Josh Marshall and TPM, Marshall offered a new post:

Martha Coakley and her campaign have been roundly, mercilessly and rightly ridiculed for getting caught off guard by Scott Brown’s rapid ascent in the Massachusetts senate race. What’s the excuse of the White House and congressional leadership for having no plan in place for what to do if Coakley lost — a live possibility going back almost three weeks?

Hey, good question! And when asked by Josh Marshall, Democrats might start thinking about it.


47 Responses to “ObamaCare: A failure of leadership”

  1. “But this process has been one of the Dems’ near-religious fervor on this issue trumping public disapproval”

    Exhibit A – Trollbot 2009 Myron

    daleyrocks (718861)

  2. My guess is that they did not believe Coakley could possibly lose so they saw no need for a backup plan.

    Fritz J. (a75536)

  3. Their membership is now beginning to wander all over the reservation, while pessimism and panic settle in.

    When everything falls apart, that is when the true-nature of leadership unmistakably appears and can no longer remain hidden.

    Regarding the leadership of President Obama/Pelosi/Reid — one suspects that more than a few Dems are about to have a real eye-opener.

    The rest of us; not so much.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  4. Why was there no plan?

    You ever think maybe this was too easy? Like they wanted Brown to win?

    Like they needed an excuse to back off health care?

    I think that sometimes.

    happyfeet (e9e587)

  5. @4 — Maybe happyfeet, but does not President Obama act like a true believer more so than an astute politician?

    There are so many things he has done that make no sense politically, but make perfect sense when viewed from the prism of a leftist true-believer.

    Also, would he lose more or gain more if his health Care “Reform” package fails? IMHO, he would lose more.

    Not sure, but that is my guess.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  6. As I’ve said elsewhere they need to pull down the whole Obamacare structure and go for incremental reforms. Policy renewability, assigned risk, malpractice award limits and portability.

    You don’t have to drown the baby in the bathwater as they were doing.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  7. Umm, most of us here would be just fine with the Dems forgetting to start thinking about it.

    bobby b (4baf73)

  8. Why was there no plan?

    This seems to be the “style” of President Obama’s leadership. He campaigned for over two years that the detainee camp at Gitmo should be closed.

    One of his first pronouncements as President was his order to close the camp.

    He did not have a plan for this camp-closure despite having more than two years and despite making a public pronouncement (politically inept; incredible, really).

    Same with Health Care, no plan just an announcement with some favoritism thrown in. Again, political suicide, but he must have known this. He had the raw power and he used it — second term be damned (didn’t he say he would not likely get a second term?).

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  9. “there’s nothing but Plan B”

    how fitting: take a few pills, thus eliminating the results of reckless, unthinking acts, and then start over…..

    unfortunately, given the moral fiber of the majority of Congress, that will just mean starting out all over again with kamikaze power appetizers, washed down with Long Island Ice Tea subsidies, followed by tequila budget shooters for dinner and jello shot exemtions for desert. once they get all juiced up on power and ideology, and we’ll be right back in stupidville, getting screwed again.

    its hard fing impossible to get these over age in grade frat boys (and girls) to think with their big head for more than a minute or two.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  10. Karl – kudos to you for being in the vanguard of this entire travesty. You reporting and synthesis, in other times, would be widely recognized for its excellence. Rock on!

    I was wrong about the end game in my earlier replies to more than a few of your posts. I was ignorant of the limitations of a reconciliation/conference committee. I was not wrong about the length the Dems would go, but you were correct that they wouldn’t, in the end, indulge themselves fully.

    Thank God.

    Ed from SFV (f6a87d)

  11. Hey, I’ve got a question:

    Suppose the US got in a real shooting war, like with a nuclear-armed Iran or, God forbid, China. I want to see the hands of those that think Obama is the guy to be in change.

    I mean if a guy in a pickup truck throws them….

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  12. Ah, there it is — regarding President Obama’s willingness to be a one-term President — not exactly as I remembered:

    (AFP, Aug 21, 2009): “I have heard the president say that, if making tough decisions and getting important things done that Washington has failed to deal with for decades means that he only lives in this house and makes those decisions for four years, he’s quite comfortable with that,” Gibbs told reporters.

    Here’s the video of Gibb’s remark. Unfortunately, Gibbs is so dishonest there is no way to determine if his statement is true.

    (Here is another person, Rep. Boswell (D-IA), also claiming first-hand knowledge of a similar statement by the President): “And he said, ‘No, if it makes me a one-term president, I’m going to, we’re going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on.’ I respected that very much.”

    If true, then for President Obama it is not so much about leadership, but agenda.

    Would explain much.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  13. i wouldn’t want to be in a water balloon fight with Barney Fife in charge of my side…..

    the only good thing is, at a “real shooting war” level is that neither of the OPFOR you mentioned are capable of projecting strategic power. they can both export terror, through proxies and weapons, and they have some economic clout, but vulnerabilities to match. they both have, or are w*rking on WMD and delivery systems, but, unless you are crazy, those are more a deterrent and threat than actual weapons of war. (and yes, eithre one or both may be that crazy)

    the one thing they cannot do is move their military forces away from their homeland base. neither country has an air force or navy as we define it, and their armies are unable to support themselves anywhere other than on their home turf or a relatively few miles outside their borders.

    in short, neither is a credible threat away from their homeland, except by the means i mentioned above. as long as they believe that we will turn them into Le May stoneware at the first mushroom cloud AND that bothers them, we’ve only the terror/proxy issues to deal with.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  14. redc1c4 — Le May stoneware


    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  15. I dont think Obama and his people believed for a moment that MA, Ted Kennedy’s state would ever go Republican. You just dont have a plan for something like that. Even the Reps didnt know it was possible till it actually happened. This belongs to the “unexpected and impossible” file. It’s like asking why people dont have a plan for unexpected and highly unlikely disasters befor they happen. You might know it could happen but you just dont expect it to happen. What is left for the Dems frm this is damage control. And yes, this is a blow you dont recover from that easily.

    The Emperor (a43dfa)

  16. Good article, Red. That was a clever reference made by Cooke and b*llsy — pure defiance.

    After the failed rescue mission failed , the Cookes wrote to the hostage, ”We sent the stoneware, but you didn’t get it. It got all broken.”

    The Carter days…(cold shudder)…and now we have Carter II, only not as smart and with both houses.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  17. only a fool doesn’t plan for the unlikely disaster.

    but then again, that’s what we have in the White House: a fool, and more fools trying to fly cover for him.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  18. This is a novel post: A right wing blog that is critical of a Democratic administration. What will you guys think of next?

    Intelliology (00d844)

  19. Leadership is providing your subordinates direction, resources, information, loyalty, encouragement, credit, reward, punishment – what ever they need to succeed. Their failure is your responsibility.

    Obama has never done anything that required leadership. He said he would be ready to “rule” on day one. Rulers only provide direction and punishment; they never accept responsibility for failure.

    This seems to be one of those awkward, “what now?” moments.

    arch (24f4f2)

  20. Madame Pelosi says they need to pause and reflect.
    Bet those senators who “worked” long days and nights over the Christmas holidays are glad for the pause…… Obamacare is FUBAR!

    Krusher (ceb4ea)

  21. This is a novel post: A right wing blog that is critical of a Democratic administration. What will you guys think of next?

    Comment by Intelliology — 1/22/2010 @ 2:10 am

    You’re kidding, right? Every consevative can’t be David Brooks, dipsh!t!

    People's Front of Judea (44bf37)

  22. Faulty Intel excels at making statements that are absolutely meaningless.

    Icy Texan (6e3930)

  23. Intelliology: That was a novel comment. Troll-bait with no substance whatsoever. What will you think of next?

    Sean P (334463)

  24. Every time another crisis strikes the Dear Leader, I think of this essay and how true it is. It compares Gorbachev to Obama, an interesting exercise.

    [T]hey do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.

    Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.

    There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.

    A variant of this is the frequently expressed denial of the law of unintended consequences: the belief that, if the effect you intend is good, the actual effect must be similarly happy.

    Very small children, the mad, and certain extinct primitive tribes, have shared in this belief system, but only the fully college-educated liberal has the vocabulary to make it sound plausible.

    With an incredible rapidity, America’s status as the world’s pre-eminent superpower is now passing away. This is a function both of the nearly systematic abandonment of U.S. interests and allies overseas, with metastasizing debt and bureaucracy on the home front.

    And while I think the U.S. has the structural fortitude to survive the Obama presidency, it will be a much-diminished country that emerges from the “new physics” of hope and change.

    Gorbachev did not have plans for the failure of his ideas, either.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  25. a live possibility going back almost three weeks

    It was not a possibility to those who were in deep denial. Need I remind you that this was Kennedy’s seat?

    To them it probably seems more like the warnings prior to nine eleven.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  26. If Boxer drops two or three more points the the Democrat Senate Committee is going to have to contemplate the transfering of millions of dollars as California is a very very expensive media market

    She was at 59% dropped 11 pts in two weeks if this continues – she’s out

    EricPWJohnson (83a5e3)

  27. Thanks for that reference, Mike K.

    Now, I totally agree that one can not trust Obama to lead in anything except what is important to him. And since the things that are important to him are very skewed, let’s be thankful he can’t succeed in bringing them about.

    Looking at his history and what he has done in office, I would judge his campaign to show he is fundamentally dishonest and an arrogant narcissist, and by necessity cannot be expected to make good decisions based on rational analysis.

    So when he tries to get major society changing legislation passed by deceitful methods that the majority of Americans do not want, I am thankful he failed. It would be good for him and others to take home the lesson that this is a representative government and that “honesty is the best policy”. I don’t expect him to learn that lesson, but hopefully he will be the one that suffers the consequences, not us. Hopefully the Repubs that get elected will remember it.

    MD in Philly (d4668b)

  28. I know I will sound like a broken record, but I really hope Conservatives, TEA party members, etc. keep focused and alert. The most dangerous animal is the cornered one. The Progressive movement took a blow. Pres Obama, current figurehead and leader of that movement has few choices. He can move toward the center (ala Clinton) or fight like a rabid dog. Several key supporters are backing off – but the fight if far from over. Whether he and Democrats moderate or not, we have a long way to go to fix this broken government. And the Progressive wing does have plans, even if they aren’t now apparent.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  29. One principle seems to be applicable here – absolute power always corrupts in the end. Politicians eventually overreach without any countering forces, witness Bush’s second term with Congress. Obama should be wishing for a GOP majority in at least one house by the end of next year, if only to save him from himself and his party’s putative leaders.

    Dmac (539341)

  30. I can’t see an instance of Obama actually LEADING on anything. Unless you count telling his lackeys to handle the details as leading. He has always deferred to others the actual bill making, policy deciding decisions. That’s not leadership, that’s his lack of a POTUS skill set showing.

    Okay, well, he lead out on calling Cambridge police stupid and calling Kanye West a jackass.

    Vivian Louise (eeeb3a)

  31. Amusingly, none of the trolls offer any explanation or rebuttal to the idea that Democratic congressional leadership has been utterly incompetent.

    And Obama has done nothing to distinguish himself from their incompetence, as his “healthcare reform” strategy was to dump it in their laps in the first place.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  32. The insufferable Progressives are beginning to become comical in their confusion. They really do not understand why all of us rabble out here in fly-over America just won’t shut the hell up, allow our betters to run the government, and enjoy the benefits of a stress free existence, with all “needs” provided for. Until the house of cards falls down, that is.

    MTF (a20706)

  33. Okay, well, he lead out on calling Cambridge police stupid and calling Kanye West a jackass.

    You forgot his excellent usage of POTUS to set up strawmen in order to make his statements seem more plausible and courageous. “Some say,” “Others claim,” “We know that there are those who say,” etc. I’ve seen better hackneyed rhetorical devices used during debates in college.

    Dmac (539341)

  34. MTF nailed it. I have been reading lefty blogs and forums, out of frank curiosity over how they think.

    The mental gymnastics used to explain Brown’s win would almost be amusing, if they did not reflect themselves in what we are seeing from Washington.

    I am a sober alcoholic. Their denials and self-justifications look very familiar to me. There is something sick when one has to work so hard to protect one’s self-concept.

    jodetoad (7a7b8a)

  35. Yeah, Dmac – Is that the same “they” that make people wear tin foil hats and swear “they” were anally probed by the aliens? That “they”?

    Gah – If all it took was to lead the country was the ability to blow sunshine out of your butt, any 4 year old with a good imagination could do it.

    Vivian Louise (eeeb3a)

  36. Obama is on TV right now from Elyria, Ohio. He’s gone folksy again, back to the cadences of his glory days on the campaign trail, his language easily slipping in and out of the Negro dialect Harry Reid pointed out. Same old stage setting, same contrived images, and more of the same.

    He’s fighting for this, he’s fighting for that, and he’s fighting for or against everything in sight. He upholds the Left, he disparages the Right. It’s another boring Obama stump speech, the bloom is off the rose. There’s not enough energy in the room to dispel the gloom.

    ropelight (a6070c)

  37. Ropelight — the old teleprompter magic. Before taking the stage, one can imagine the President rubbing it like a crystal ball “c’mon baby, one more time”. 😉

    Not watching it, but bet it is the same old: “I”, “me” and “Bush”.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  38. @23 Mike K — Thank you for this. The way David Warren phrased it is most compelling:

    A variant of this is the frequently expressed denial of the law of unintended consequences: the belief that, if the effect you intend is good, the actual effect must be similarly happy.

    Very small children, the mad, and certain extinct primitive tribes, have shared in this belief system, but only the fully college-educated liberal has the vocabulary to make it sound plausible.

    My long standing question is why a grown, educated adult would take the failed political philosophies of socialism (which the world is largely abandoning) and incorporate it into a fiercely held belief system — in spite of the historical record and today’s knowledge. It is an inversion of “hindsight is 20/20”. In President Obama’s case “hindsight is meaningless”.

    Perhaps David Warren has the right idea.

    The foundation of President Obama’s political philosophy is made of the same stuff as the foundation of fairy-tales.

    Based on the lack of rebuttal to Karl’s post (there has only been a single negative response — more of an emotional squeal, really), the President’s inability to lead is slowly becoming obvious to even the least interested and most misinformed.

    As this reality continues to intrude on the fantasy realm of the true believer, the denials and defensive responses should prove spectacular. So far, a little disappointed on the first attempt in this thread (there was nothing to it), but expect better and more creative constructions hereafter.

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  39. I am very worried that Obama will now strike back at the society which doesn’t seem to appreciate him. The first step may be his statements about the banks which Geithner has already come out against. We may be dealing with a man who does not know how the world works. Whose life has been been directed by mentors whose names we don’t know. I am not a birther but I would sure like to know more about this man that was elected in 2008.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  40. By the way, Pons. That essay was a modern version of an older one that lamented the fate of Canada after Trudeau.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  41. Jonah Goldberg made a clever observation in his “Kool-Aid” article today, “Every (Obama) address is so laden with “me,” “myself” and “I,” you’d think he was trying to fix the economy with a massive stimulus of personal pronouns.”

    ropelight (a6070c)


    clyde (1459de)

  43. I am very worried that Obama will now strike back at the society which doesn’t seem to appreciate him.

    Yes, same here. In adverse circumstances, often a man will lead or flail. A flailing man with power is not a comforting thought.

    Hope this is wrong, but his speeches seem orientated on his greatness. It is as though he is doing us a favor by being the President. We just don’t understand his greatness and vision.

    We may be dealing with a man who does not know how the world works. Whose life has been directed by mentors whose names we don’t know.

    The known mentors are scary enough, but yes, he owes us that. How is it possible that we can know more about the background of an American Idol contestant, than of the current President of The United States (!) ?

    I am not a birther but I would sure like to know more about this man that was elected in 2008.

    Totally agree. The President was given our collective trust, power, and the future of our country. Where is his thesis; where are his grades, essays or transcripts? Even a routine job interview would require one or more of those items. One would think that he would be proud of at least something along those lines and would want to share it (and g_d forbid we ask for a birth certificate). Much like his Presidency so far, there is nothing to be proud.

    Pons asinorum (1f16cc)

  44. @41 Mike K – I must confess to more than a little ignorance about Canada’s political history. Thanks for pointing out George Grant’s essay, it looks quite interesting and I look forward to reading it.

    “Canada was once a nation with meaning and purpose” — his words are intriguing and distressing. Hopefully his quote will not serve prophetic for our country too.

    Pons asinorum (1f16cc)

  45. @42 Ropelight – if only we had a nickel for everytime he mentions his favorite pronouns…we could retire the national debt. dada-boom

    Pons asinorum (1f16cc)

  46. wonderful

    jim (849cac)

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