Free Markets, Free People

Dead Man Walking?

Marc Ambinder takes sophistry and spin to a new level in a post at the Atlantic entitled “How Obama Survived August”.

Of course, for most of us, it isn’t yet clear he has survived August. We’ll see how he does tomorrow night and what, if anything, that brings before deciding if he’s still among the living, politically speaking.

But Sir Marc drives on denying that anything that happened in August mattered very much and, discovering irony, throws this jewel out there:

Another irony: the public option debate helped. It helped by offering itself up as a sacrifice. The new Maginot line, drawn by advocates of a single payer system, turned out to be a bit of a feint because it was never the sine qua non of reform.

At best that’s whistling past the graveyard. But there was no “plan” to offer the public option up for sacrifice and Ambinder knows it. The fact that it is up for debate and perhaps exclusion has nothing – nothing- to do with Ambinder’s spin. It will most likely be dumped because Democrats missed the self-imposed August deadline to pass this in haste so they wouldn’t have to debate or defend the public option.

Their failure to do so gave people the opportunity to dig into the details of the bill passed by the House and spawned the August to remember. To pretend this was all part of a grand strategy, given the debacle that this debate has been for the Democrats, is simply laughable on its face.

Where Ambinder and I agree is where the Netroots crowd is going to end up in all of this:

Sen. Max Baucus’s health care plan has been derided by many liberal activists because it seems to be a compromise upon a compromise.

For these activists, the debate itself has been damaging because it exposed the administration’s willingness to give voice and legitimacy to sides in this debate that many liberal activists do not believe ought to be afforded those prerogatives, including Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, PhRMA, and the insurers. The charge that Obama didn’t stand up for his principals is a hard one to rebut, but the White House would rather have the bill they’re probably going to get now and worry about Netroot anxiety later. From the start, the least convincing argument made to the White House about strategy starts with the premise that compromising with recalcitrant Republicans is inherently bad.

You have to laugh a bit at this too – Ambinder admits that the “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” crowd is adamant about excluding those they disagree with from the “debate”. Read Hamsher’s screed cited in the Van Jones article below if you doubt that.

But what is happening is inevitable in politics, regardless of which party we’re talking about. Where do the Netroots go if displeased with Obama? The same place conservatives went when displeased with McCain’s move toward the squishy center. Nowhere.

The Netroots may sit at home, or lessen their activism, realizing that their more radical dreams have no future, but they’re not going to the other side – of that Obama is certain. Democrats have exploited that little truism for decades with both the black and LGBT communities.

After that bit of reality, Ambinder heads back into sophistry:

After August, conservatives have exhausted their repertoire of arguments and many of their demagogic tricks. Public support for significant health care reform as something worth doing remains high.

As a matter of fact there is a kernel of truth in that bit of nonsense. Public support for health care reform does remain high. However public support for the Democratic version of health care reform couldn’t be lower. And that’s what is on the table for the moment.

And as with most of the left, Ambinder thinks the August outbursts were all orchestrated by “conservatives” and are waning. In fact, what continues to ebb is trust in both the president and Democrats. You’d have to thoroughly ignore the recent polls to believe that this is about “conservatives” and their “demagogic tricks”. You’d have to be willfully blind to insist this is all just about health care.

But Ambinder is convinced that it is indeed all about Democrats:

After August, Democrats have the momentum to pass the bill.

Only if they are able to do what Ambinder has successfully done – stick his head in a bucket and listen to the echo while ignoring the reality to be seen outside. Democrats have the power to pass the bill – there’s no question. But those who actually have positions at risk are very unlikely to be as glib as Ambinder when it comes to his badly flawed analysis. Momentum isn’t the word Democrats are going to be using when talking about a health care bill. “Risk” is the word they’ll be using.

I still think, as I’ve been saying, and as Ambinder contends, that something called “health care reform” will pass the Congress. I think there are enough Democrats who understand that this is indeed Obama’s presidential Waterloo and are determined to put him on the British side of things.

However, it is ludicrous to believe that a) this has all gone according to some sort of plan and b) that at this point Obama has survived it. He may get a bill that is so watered down and irrelevant that he becomes just as irrelevant. And in the world of politics that’s the equivalent of being “dead”.

It’s a little early to be singing about Obama or the Democrats having survived anything at this point.



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28 Responses to Dead Man Walking?

  • Blue dog Democrats are effectively screwed at this point. They’ll wind up as “traitors” to their party for giving in to “right wing dirty tricks” or they’ll wind up as lame ducks dealing with a constituency that can’t buy pitchforks fast enough. Some of them will probably wonder why they went through the effort of winning office in a traditionally conservative district only to have their own party violently yank the rug out from under their feet.

  • The Democrats of September still have the ability to suffer the fate of Lemmings but I’m sure that most would rather not.

  • The same place conservatives went when displeased with McCain’s move toward the squishy center. Nowhere.


    Actually, if you look at election results, the conservatives went home and stayed there on election day.

  • President Obama at his news conference on Wednesday September 9, 2009, will announce that he has put foreword his own health care plan entitled: HEALTH CARE- HOW TO SERVE AMERICANS. see it here,

  • Of course Obama survived it. His poll numbers have been edging up slightly, and he hasn’t dipped below 50% on the RCP average. (Reagan fell into the low 40s before he recovered — Clinton was thought all but dead in late 1994.) August is a dead month politically. Most of the country is out having fun, few people tune in to what’s happening. The political junkies, always over reacting to every twist and turn in the shifting political sands, read too much into momentary fads. Moreover, Obama was never really leading a health care charge, now if he can manage to take control and get something passed, it will appear that Obama’s leadership made a difference — and unless the reform flops, that will help him politically. I suspect the silly hysteria in reaction to a very non-partisan message of personal responsibility to school children was the point where the far right ‘jumped the shark’ and started to look a bit bizarre.

    Of course, the economy is real, and is still the most likely thing out there to sink Obama. Watch the economy to know the President’s future, not the pundits or activists.

    • Erb says: “Most of the country is out having fun, few people tune in to what’s happening.”

      Yep, Erb, no one paid any attention as The Clown’s™ job approval numbers took a nosedive, his health care hilarity became less popular than the clap, and the Demmies in Congress are about as liked as bin Laden, maybe less so.

      Of course, I invite you to continue your delusions, as they do make lovely, albeit hilarious, reading.

      • Chuckle. I’ll book mark this page. I suspect I’ll have opportunity to throw it in your face a few times in the next seven years. The country has changed, it is demographically and politically different than it was even ten years ago. Moreover, due to failures in foreign policy and economic troubles, our position on the world stage is fundamentally altered — and weakened. I think some of you haven’t quite figured that out yet. You will.

    • Erb says: “Of course, the economy is real, and is still the most likely thing out there to sink Obama.”

      Sorry, Erb, but I have to laugh at this one. Because it is not just the economy that is destroying The Clown’s™ presidency; it is his massive deficit spending, his lying through his teeth about the disastrous “stimulus” package that was a horrific boondoggle, his joke of a foreign policy that has the Iranians, the Venezuelans, and the North Koreans, to name three, laughing at the incredible naiveté of this joke of a President you support.

      The economy? It is not the only thing that will be The Clown’s™ undoing. It is his abysmal record on everything, and the American people are growing tired of him and his failures rather quickly.

    • Obama was never really leading a health care charge


      And you wonder why you get treated like a vaginal fungus sometimes…..good lord

    • Obama was never really leading a health care charge

      Well… he should have been. I think this speaks to Bruce’s claims about a lack of leadership. Obama wanted health care reform in place before the recess, and understood (or should have understood) that there would be a battle over it during the recess. With solid majorities in both the House and Senate, the problem wasn’t Republicans, it was Democrats, particularly those in conservative districts.

      Obama’s ratings have been slowly declining, particularly among independents. And support for health care reform has been declining even faster, putting lie to the claim that it’s just Republican-funded rabble-rousing going on. Obama owed it to the country that elected him to lead a health care charge if he really believed that the country needs it.

  • “I suspect the silly hysteria in reaction to a very non-partisan message of personal responsibility”
    Once again, Erb proves to be completely ignorant of the meaning of personal responsibility. The severe reaction was to the very partisan lesson plan that called for service to Obama. That it got revised so quickly shows that the administration knows how absurdly wrong it was to suggest it.

    It’s already been clearly shown that every health reform proposed by the Democrats will flop (in fact most of them already have in other countries), but unfortunately anything that does get passed won’t flop here immediately. That may well become a victory for Obama politically, but it’s a disaster for anyone stuck with the results.

  • The liberals all claim that “August is over,” as if as soon as the calendar changed to September the entire political landscape was redrawn. Alas, it hasn’t been. The Clown™ is still at 45-47% job approval, his health care debacle is going down in flames, and the rest of his silly socialist program is dead in the Congress and with the American people.

    August may have been bad – and it was – but September holds no prizes for The Clown™ or his maladministration. Wait until the FY 2009 deficit numbers come out next month, and unemployment reaches 10% before Thanksgiving.

    • I’ve seen some projections of 14% unemployment by next summer
      I can see the spin now .. we never said what the “stimulus” would stimulate.

  • Of course Obama survived August. He didn’t swallow a bullet. He didn’t hang himself with his own belt. He didn’t slash his wrists. He’s still alive isn’t he? And that is the only criteria anyone can follow at this time.

    And it really doen’t matter what the so-called professor from Maine wants you to think, Obama has been leading the charge all along. He may have passed the onerous duty to Congress to put the details of the bill together but he has been on the firing line from day one as it’s pre-eminent spokesman. 28 Speeches to date on health care. An entire one hour ABC infomercial with Obama playing the starring role. Virtually not a day has gone by since early July that there has not been a major speech, town hall or press conference where health Care has not been front and center with Obama leading the charge.

    Obama wants you to think that it doesn’t matter what he has said to this point. He has staked it all on one roll of the dice tomorrow night. He wants the world to see how he rises to the occasion.

    Unless he rolls snake-eyes. Then it will be when his next prime time appearance will be – and the next – and the next. The real key to this President is how he deals with adversary. What will happen if this speech falls upon deaf ears? What if, as had happened during the month of August, every time the President spoke his poll numbers and support for ObamaCare fell.

    Then what?!?

  • Actually when Hillarycare was defeated, it saved Clinton’s presidency.

    Saner minds may realize the same thing would happen here if they shutdown this entirely. Anything less will damage the Democrats and Obama in rough proportion to the strength of what is passed.

    The issue isn’t Obama’s Presidency, its his momentum. Obama has forced a choice between the two.

  • Another irony: the public option debate helped. It helped by offering itself up as a sacrifice. The new Maginot line, drawn by advocates of a single payer system, turned out to be a bit of a feint because it was never the sine qua non of reform.

    Ah, how clever! It’s sort of like disarming one’s opponent by beating his fists to a pulp with one’s face!

    / sarc

    We’ve seen increasingly egregious examples of “journalists” casting their alleged impartiality to the four winds lately, most notably in their nasty portrayal of “teabaggers” (itself a perjorative term) and the non-coverage of Van Jones’ radical past. Now we have a journalist (I suppose Ambinder would identify himself as such) trying to convince us that the beating the libs have been taking this past month was part of a clever, calculated strategy, and that the point of greatest contention was actually nothing but a ruse put out their to exhaust their opponents.


    Does MiniTru carry so much water for TAO because they are ideological soulmates or because they are trying with might and main to make his “historic” presidency a success? If the former, then what sort of people ARE they? How is it that almost the entire DC press corps is de facto socialist? Does that field of endeavor simply attract that sort of person in the same way that engineering attracts people who like math and science? Is it an example of bias in hiring, such that anybody who doesn’t share their worldview and philosophy hasn’t got a chance to get past the initial interview? Or is it simply that immersion in the faux-intellectual / elitist circles of the DC / NYC political world eventually makes anybody who is not a hard-core conservative (or libertarian) into a braindead liberal (BIRM)?

    How can a person who is not a willful liar or else insane cover the news in the way MiniTru often does?

  • Erb says: “James, you’re trying to hard. Obama is still more popular than Reagan was during much of his first term (and twice as popular as Bush at the end of his term). And he’s just starting a new political blitz. You are a clown. Obama is the President. Deal with it.”

    First, Reagan and Bush won second terms. Obama is not going to. He is less popular than the clap right now. And his health care boondoggle is going down the drain.

    Remember, Erb: Afghanistan, Iraq, Gitmo, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, drugs, the deficit, crap & trade, Van Jones and his 9 million fellow Czars…and those are just the issues people are paying attention to.

    Sorry, Erb, but you need to start figuring out how it is going to feel to have the Demmies lose control of Congress twice in 15 years over failed health care power grabs. That is gotta hurt. Then again, having Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as your party’s leaders must really be an insult.

  • “Does MiniTru carry so much water for TAO because they are ideological soulmates or because they are trying with might and main to make his “historic” presidency a success?”

    False dilemma, it’s both.

  • Seldom mentioned in all of the health care insurance debate is something that seems new and dangerous to me.

    Besides the government specifying what the product the businesses of a sector can sell, it is also forbidding those businesses from selling their product in a market. The products must be sold through a government bureaucracy instead.