Friday, September 4, 2009

You Don't Need A Telescope To See What's Coming

Caption: The 24-inch Clark telescope at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ. You don't need one of these to know what's coming next.

Image credit: Dana Hunter

Some things you can see coming a mile away. Greg Sargent has an interesting article up about a conference call between President Obama and the House progessives who are demanding a viable public option. After mentioning that Obama asked the congressmen how far they were all willing to compromise on a public option, and what they thought an acceptable public option would include, it ends like this:

In another newsworthy tidbit, [ Rep. Raul] Grijalva says Obama signaled that discussions about the public option would continue even after his big speech before a joint session of Congress next week. That may be an indication that Obama won’t be mentioning the public option in his speech, but doesn’t want liberals to despair at that prospect.

Said Grijalva: “I didn’t come away from this discussion feeling that we were dead.”

Top House Liberal: Obama Signaled On Call He Understands How Serious We Are About Public Option

Tell me that you can't see this coming, too. Obama gives his big speech on Wednesday without mentioning the public option, or at least, mentioning what he thinks "public option" really means. Progressives play along, thinking he's still willing to negotiate. The time for negotiation arrives, and the President says "Deal? What deal? We never had a deal."

After you've seen this happen a few times, you start to recognize the warning signs. Let's see if the progressives in question do. I get the feeling from Grijalva's statements that he doesn't.

Every poll that has been taken on health care recently has shown the public option is supported overwhelmingly. Even if a bill passes that doesn't have a good public option in it, Obama will look like a hero if he demands it. It would be no skin off his butt if it didn't happen. The only reason not to mention it in a speech at this point is to not raise expectations that it will be there. If I were those progressive congresspeople, I'd be telling Obama that silence on this issue is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, I don't think they will. The one thing that Obama has had going for him is that he can sound incredibly sincere. It's only when you compare his words with his actions that you realize you've been had. Even then, a lot of people won't be willing to admit it. I hope I'm wrong, but it's when I'm at my most pessimistic that I've been right lately.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, if you want to put a little pressure on the President to do the right thing by demanding a viable public option, here are three petitions on the subject:

HCAN and TrueMajority
CREDO/Wired For Change

I'm not sure how much good these things do, but I always sign them. It takes almost no time and I figure it can't hurt.

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