Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama Must Reclaim the Debate

Obama should also explain why bipartisanship ain't what it used to be. This is a party out to cripple or kill reform, and with it the future success of Obama's Presidency. As the eminent Roosevelt scholar Jean Edward Smith recently argued, "This fixation on securing bipartisan support for healthcare reform suggests that the Democratic party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead."

The president should challenge the Blue Dogs. Place the burden on them to get out of the way of the majority in favor of a comprehensive plan. The question isn't whether the progressive majority is unreasonably resisting reform to save the public option. The question is whether a small minority of conservative Democrats will sabotage reform simply to stop the public option. Do the Blue Dogs wish to cripple their own President in his first year in office for seeking an objective that has been the stated goal of their party since the Truman administration?

Obama must lead the charge and rally the people who swept him into the White House. And challenge the Democrats. Make it clear to the Democratic Caucus in general, and to the Blue Dogs in particular, that for the sake of the country they must vote for cloture so that a bill that will accomplish substantive reform can have an up-or-down vote on the floor. Don't heed those who counsel incrementalism or bipartisanship at all cost. The art of the possible is not the same as the art of incrementalism. And healthcare reform enacted by a Democratic majority is still meaningful reform.

Read it all at The Nation.

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