Yesterday, in a conversation with my youngest brother, we puzzled over the president’s decision to double down on his health care overhaul despite polls showing strong opposition to the plan. My brother thought Obama had no choice but to press on, lest he lose his left-wing base. If he gives in, he risks dampening their enthusiasm in this year’s congressional elections, possibly pushing them to back a more politically correct candidate in the 2012 primaries.
But, as the president attempts to hold onto his base, he risks alienating the rest of the country.
Calling “the strategy of President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders is psychologically understandable — as well as delusional,” Michael Gerson offers five reasons why his reconciliation strategy would hurt the president and his party, leading off with this one:
First, the imposition of a House-Senate health-reform hybrid would confirm the worst modern image of the Democratic Party, that of intellectual arrogance. Parties hurt themselves most when they confirm a destructive public judgment. In this case, Americans would see Democrats pushing a high-handed statism. It is amazing how both parties, when given power, seem compelled to inhabit their own caricatures.
The president’s decision to press on with health care reform reinforces the image that he–and hi party’s leadership–are out of touch.
Even liberal pundits think the president’s “audaciousness on health care could backfire,” with Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus expressing the worry that
. . . going for broke and failing will leave no time or appetite for a fallback, scaled-down plan. And the moment to do something on health care — not everything, but something significant — will have evaporated, once again.
Well, good. We don’t need “something significant,” at least in terms of the significant reforms put forward by left-of-center politicians and pundits. Right now, all we’ve got is a president desperate to impose such “significant reform” and his latest plan, an amorphous amalgam of bills passed by the House and Senate has, in Jennifer Rubin’s words, “no CBO score, no popular mandate, and no congressional majority.”
And still he presses on. Well, it’s for the children his liberal base.