Populist Focus, Not Ego, Was Needed
by Deacon Blues
It could have been different. In an alternate presidency, one that was led less by ego and more by hard-boiled political pragmatism, the incoming administration would have quickly accepted the pile of sh*t left behind by their negligent predecessors, and immediately recalibrated their agenda to account for the relative weakness of their caucuses, and leaders in Congress.
For example, instead of having the president already overexposed and making a desperation pitch to the country Wednesday night about health care reform, he could be talking about a well-crafted stimulus package showing signs of job growth; crowed about the new regulatory framework he got passed to make sure Wall Street doesn't wreck the economy again; and directed everyone's attention to the fall energy independence package that was the next item on his reform agenda so that Big Oil doesn't wreck us again.
Rather than find himself making the almost laughable argument that a trillion-dollar health care reform package was needed to reduce deficits he had a hand in creating, he could have spent the night talking about all the new roads, bridges, energy grid projects, and small business financing assistance he pushed through in the spring in his stimulus package, on an issue where the public takes a much longer view and has much more patience with him and his policies. He could have bashed Republicans in Congress for opposing his total overhaul regulatory package, and blamed them for business as usual in letting Wall Street and the banks control the country. And any deficit spending on his watch would have clearly been seen as helping Main Street, and not Wall Street, AIG, and Goldman Sachs.
And he could have used Wednesday night to set the stage for the debate next year, yes an election year, on why it was important for voters to know who was with them next year on health care and who was with the status quo. He could have told voters that the economy needs to strengthen a little before accommodating the shifts necessary to tackle real reform, while highlighting the likely opponents as creatures of the status quo and captives of Wall Street not Main Street.
Because the truth is that it doesn’t matter if a health care reform package passes this year or the next; in any event, it won’t launch until 2011 at the earliest. The problem is that he went bold and said he wanted a deal this year, and now his opponents have all they need to take him down. He shifted the burden to himself instead of putting the targets on their backs, including the corporate-bought swine in his own party.
If he had been a little more focused and used that electoral mandate to tackle the economy and regulatory reform out of the gate, and then built upon those successes with a push for a real energy independence package in the fall, he would have still had his political capital for the big fight next year on health care. And if he had followed a tougher, more progressive, yes populist set of prescriptions in dealing with the economy and Wall Street to this point, his opponents would not have been able to paint him as the largest deficit-spender of all time, thereby nearly dooming his health care reform efforts.
Instead, he went along with his pro-Wall Street inner circle, and now his agenda will pay the ultimate price.