On September 5th, before Obama’s speech at a joint session before Congress, I wrote the following:
If Obama really does punt on the public option, it will be a disaster for him and for us. And not because of policy. No, this will be our Waterloo moment because emotional truth and actual truth will collide.
Those of us who feel the most passionately about this, the "left of the left" if you will (although, I live in Venice, there are people here who equate me with George Bush, honest to god), will see a President who did not respect, empower and include them. We will feel that we have no more voice in this administration than we did the last.
That will be our emotional truth.
Worse, Republicans will see that bullying, being disruptive, and tapping into people’s worst fears and instincts works, and will use it on each and every piece of legislation the White House tries to pass for the next 3 years. It’s happening on climate change legislation now. Combine that with a disillusioned, disempowered activist left and I’m seeing damage to the Democratic Party well past the 2010 election cycle.
So on Wednesday night, the only thing I’m going to be watching for is the narrative our Story-Teller-In-Chief brings to the American people. I will be watching for the emotional truth.
That is what the fight over the public option is all about – it is not about policy. When we helped elect Obama, we entered into an implied agreement. We expected Change, we expected to respected, empowered and included, we expected him to fight, and we expected to join him in that fight.
Wednesday night will be a promise kept or a promise broken. It will be our moment of truth.
Today, with this interview in the Washington Post, he broke that promise.
He said the Senate legislation accomplishes “95 percent” of what he called for during his 2008 presidential campaign and in his September speech to a joint session of Congress on the need for health-care reform [...]
Obama said the public option “has become a source of ideological contention between the left and right.” But, he added, “I didn’t campaign on the public option.”
He could have saved us all a great deal of trouble if he had just said from the outset, "No public option, no way". Instead, he decided to play a shell game of "Now you see it, now you don’t".
You can’t claim you didn’t campaign for it if you put it on your website, signed onto HCAN’s health care principals, included it in your white paper on health care reform, and talked it up as a candidate to the Washington Post. This is being too clever by half and an insult to those of use who have been paying attention.
I, and millions like me, upheld our end of the bargain. We organized, made calls, canvassed, and defended him against the worst the Tea Baggers had to offer.
With this one interview, Obama didn’t just break a promise, he shredded the entire social contract with us.
As my good friend Robert Cruickshank pointed out to me, take a look at the Drew Westen must-read article on the failures of Obama’s communications strategy. Westen argues that people are beginning to tune Obama out, and I’m here to tell you right now it’s absolutely true.
For myself, I’m looking forward to taking a nice, long break from all things Obama come the New Year and once that weak-tea Senate HCR bill is finally signed.
Feel free to label me a purity troll, but my New Year’s resolution also includes not donating one thin dime to the DNC, OFA, DCSS, or DCSS, not one phone call for the OFA, not one precinct walked, not one rally attended.
My energies are better spent on change I actually believe in.