Perhaps the most telling comment in today’s Washington Post roundup of the reaction or various “political experts” to the President’s “medis offensive” on health care this weekend was this comment from Lanny J. Davis, Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 1998, one of the two Democrats surveyed:
Now it is time for him to endorse a specific proposal — either one of his own or one already introduced in Congress — and defend that plan, while showing a willingness to compromise to gain Republican support. His media blitz should help solidify support among Democrats — but the White House needs to appeal to people (like myself) who are on TV wanting to defend and promote a national health-care bill. We need something specific on the table from the president.
H/t: Jennifer Rubin. Emphasis added. This jibes with a point I made last week, wondering if it were presumptuous of the president with all his pontificating on health care, he “still hasn’t come forward with a particular plan with specific details.” Rubin wonders why no one in the White House has the courage to say as much to the President:
But I think what’s really going on is that we have a White House devoid of a single brave soul with the influence and courage to say, “Enough Mr. President. Figure out what you want and then go on TV.” This media bombardment suggests a level of narcissism that puts a premium on placing the president at the center of every snippet of coverage, as opposed to getting down to the hard work of crafting positions, negotiating deals, and even meeting with the opposition.
Emphasis added. Guess the White House staff is too busy engaging the public (especially through independent federal agencies) to get behind the President’s health care plan, they don’t have time to actually craft that plan.
Davis isn’t the only Democrat needing specifics, even congressional Democrats are unclear what Obama wants on healthcare.
So, let me offer a suggestion to the President on how to proceed, based on a comment I wrote in response to thoughtful commentary offered by one of our perennial critics. Before again going public with his push for an overhaul of health care, the President should sit down with legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft a bill specifying how they wish to effect those reforms.
Once they have a bill, he should then promote it (perhaps in the same manner he has done with a speech to a joint session of Congress and various TV experiences) and then allow critics to weigh in, incorporating, when appropriate, their suggestions into the bill through amendment.
Perhaps he might more readily do this, if he were focused less on engaging the public and more on crafting legislation. It might be easier to do that if he replaced some of those political operatives who staff his White House with policy wonks.