[Guest post by DRJ]
The AP reports President Obama’s comments last night, coming on the same day Republican Senator Scott Brown was sworn in, may signal that health care reform is DOA:
“I think it’s very important for us to have a methodical, open process over the next several weeks, and then let’s go ahead and make a decision,” Obama said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.
“And it may be that … if Congress decides we’re not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not,” the president said. “And that’s how democracy works. There will be elections coming up, and they’ll be able to make a determination and register their concerns.”
It was a shift in tone for the issue the “Yes we can” candidate campaigned on and made the centerpiece of his domestic agenda last year. In a speech to a joint session of Congress in September, Obama declared: “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. … Here and now we will meet history’s test.”
There were varied responses to Obama’s statements:
“Some party activists saw Obama’s remarks as a signal that he’s pulling back from that idea. Others said he may simply be making a last overture to Republicans before using the muscular partisan strategy in the Senate.”
Speaker Pelosi doesn’t seem to be giving up, instead calling on Democratic activists to exert renewed pressure on national politicians to pass reform:
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought momentum in a speech Friday to Democratic Party activists meeting in Washington. “Standing together and working together, we will pass health care reform for the American people,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.
“But recognize your role in this. We can do all the inside maneuvering and legislating and the rest, but without the outside mobilization, without your participation, nothing really great or good can happen.”
David Plouffe does not want to surrender on health care reform, and his recent return to White House tells me it’s folly for the AP to think Obama is conceding now.
The Democrats are still driving this bus. Which road will they take?
UPDATE— MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell says the Democrats have given up on health care reform and this is just posturing to please the liberal base:
“But since Election Night, he said, Democrats have moved into “full bluff mode.”
“We’re absolutely in full fake cheerleading mode. I think Nancy Pelosi has absolutely no moves left. I think she knows that now. I think Harry Reid knows that. And that’s why they don’t bring it up,” he said. “They had a Senate leadership press conference (Thursday) and it was as if (reporters) were asking about World War I” when they asked about reform.
O’Donnell attributes the theatrics to the need to deal with a liberal base that will go bonkers if Democrats quit on reform. And the cue cards are nothing new. He pointed to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s statements during the fall that the Senate would pass the public option even though “he’s smart enough to know they were never going to get it.”
“No one who went on television was free to say anything realistic,” he said.
This time, Democratic leaders are publicly acknowledging that they can’t see the way forward.
“I’ve never heard leadership admit publicly to being so lost,” O’Donnell said. “In ’94, we never admitted we didn’t know how to proceed after we crashed and burned in the Senate. We kept up a much better mirage.”