President Obama's remarks on health care reform today represented his assumption of the baton — according to the White House — so that he can now conduct the health care debate. It is worth noting that the first thing "Maestro Obama" did was to move the deadline for action on the issue and change its name.
He has abandoned the call for both Houses to act on what he now calls "insurance reform" by the end of this month, in favor of call for a completed bill by the end of the year.
These moves are a sign of trouble.
That new Washington Post poll out this morning shows that while more people still approve than disapprove of his handling of health care, the margin has shrunk from 57 to 29 in favor, to 49 to 44 — a 23-point swing since April.
Over the weekend, governors of both parties meeting in Mississippi worried that the administration is about to saddle them with vast new Medicaid obligations, but no money to cover them. This after the Congressional Budget Office said that far from reducing the nation's health costs, the health reform bills now before Congress would do just the opposite.
The president keeps saying that this will get done this year, but time is clearly not on his side. Normally that would argue for speeding up the timetable. But that option was not available, because the votes aren't there.
Finding the votes may require more changes than just the name.
— Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for FOX News Channel.