Obama Owns It, Whatever It Is
dday at the end of his blog about the President's phone call with bloggers:
There is a bright spot, however. Obama went pretty far [pretty far, huh? wow!] in support of a [incredibly shrinking] public option, a fairly tangible reform effort [if it were done as originally envisioned, which is no longer even being discussed], on the call. He doubted the evidence that a co-op plan like that pushed by Kent Conrad would work, citing past experience that showed them having trouble getting off the ground. And he then said that the House and Senate bills would not be identical, that a conference committee would certainly be required. And at that point, the White House would engage in serious negotiations [good for the White House to finally get serious after the basic shape of the legislation has already been hammered out, no sense getting serious before almost everything has already been decided], with the President's fundamental principles and benchmarks in place [whatever those are]. The House and Senate bills would not match up exactly, but that would not mean that the final bill wouldn't include certain elements, he essentially said. The President was basically saying: get it to conference, and we'll straighten it out. That probably doesn't mean that the President gets everything he wants, but it means that the big issues will be at his determination and discretion, almost certainly.
I think that's an important reminder. Past White Houses have used the conference committee very effectively to make sure bills matched preferences. Obama signaled his willingness to do that. Which means that, while we can have a role in getting this bill through each chamber, the White House will be able to make their presence felt to a degree at the finish line. In effect, he will take ownership of the policy and ensure it beats the status quo.
Got that, Obama will take ownership of the policy so whatever we end up with will ultimately be Obama's bill, no excuses later. He won't get everything, but the big issues will be his determination and discretion. If it's fantastic, which would be an unexpected surprise, all credit to the President. If it sucks, then I don't want to hear the list of "progressive" excuses for why it sucks and why it's not Obama's fault (of course, it won't be Obama's fault entirely, he's had plenty of help).
And "ensure it beats the status quo" - don't aim too high there "progressives," you might hit your head on a snake's underbelly or something. But hey, it's not like people are dying or anything.
NOTE To dday's credit, he notes how deeply unsatisfying the President's answer to his specific policy question was (and good on him for asking a specific policy question), but that just makes all this faith based support at the end more frustrating. Even though Obama basically refused to commit to anything in terms of policy, dday is still going out and flogging for the "Obama plan". Look, Obama's asking for your help, it's actually okay to demand something from him in exchange for it. Because if you're willing to go out there and whip for Obama - without getting anything in return - you're likely to end up with nothing. He doesn't need to give "progressives" anything to get their support. You just gave it to him. Now, he's free to go cave to the Blue Dogs.
Always get a quo for your quid. That's Politics 101. Jeebus.
NOTE 2 Obama's call to bloggers for help is evidence that, IMO, supports Stirling Newberry's point about how weak Obama is in terms of getting things done legislatively.