President Obama receives an update on Affordable Care Act in the Oval Office, April 1, 2014. With the President, from left, are: Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor; Tara McGuinness, Senior Communications Advisor; Marlon Marshall, Principal Deputy Director of Public Engagement; Jeanne Lambrew, Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy; Kristie Canegallo, Advisor to Chief of Staff; and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (Photo by Pete Souza)
It’s more or less a truism that some on the Left expected Barack Obama to be a liberal George W. Bush: someone not overly concerned with the niceties of democratic governance in order to push an agenda to the left of most Americans. You know, the whole “ends and means” debate: our ends are noble, so the means don’t matter.
Of course, he didn’t turn out to be that Leftist wish. Nowhere was this more evident than in the healthcare debate, where, unlike the previous Democratic president, he left it up to the Congress to actually do its job and legislate, within broad parameters he laid out. He knew something which seemed to escape the Clintons: Congress members don’t like being told what to do, and don’t like being presented a plan with minimal input from them. By bringing in at least the Democratic caucus as stakeholders, Obama ensured that something would be passed; his effort was in that the legislation which took shape would conform to his key standards.
So, yes, the public option, which would have helped precious few people, was jettisoned in the interest of getting to 218 in the House and 60 in the Senate. And the howls from certain sectors of the Left were more deafening than the screeches from the Right. When both Left and Right were wailing to “kill the bill”, and working in concert to do just that, you know you’ve entered an alternate reality.
Now that Obamacare is shaping up to be a roaring success, some of those who screamed the loudest on “our” side have conveniently forgotten their roles in 2009. And they’ve certainly forgotten the discontent they stoked, leading to the GOP landslide in 2010.
Yes, that. Because Obama and the Democrats were actually governing, rather than handing out ponies and rainbows, many on the Left decided to wage a campaign in 2010—not against Republicans, but a season of long knives against Democrats. And we’ve lived with the results for the past 3 years.
If voters had accepted that politics is the art of the possible, instead of punishing Barack Obama for things he never promised, what could he have done in these 3 years?