Published July 20, 2009
Reading the health care reform press coverage today and over the weekend must have been very frustrating for Democrats and encouraging for Republicans. Despite pulling out all the stops, including a rushed-looking presidential statement in the Rose Garden late Friday afternoon, America just isn't buying it.
Sometimes presidents have to stick to their principles and lead by making decisions that might not be popular, but I don't think that this version of health care reform fits such a scenario. "We need a win" is not a principle, and the Democrats would have been better off if they'd not let that narrative gain the substantial ground it now enjoys.
President Obama holds considerable good will with a majority of Americans, though as they learn more about the policy details they are resisting most of his suggested changes. It strikes me that he should consider asking the State Department to make him a new button -- one that would allow him to hit pause. Then he could regroup and encourage a bipartisan healthcare reform bill that could perhaps go somewhere besides the potential for it to go down in flames.
I know this wouldn't be popular with a lot of people, but it could prevent further erosion of support for the general consensus from both parties that the status quo is unacceptable.
To me, it's like they're trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. It will not fit. And if you force the peg through, everything around it will break -- making other important issues harder to fix.
My advice is to stop pounding...we're all getting headaches. Pull back and either square the circle or circle the square before trying again.