We didn’t get the public option through the Senate or the House this time. The blogosphere wanted it, the people wanted it, and it was the right thing to do. But we ran headfirst into a brick wall called conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is neither conventional nor is it wisdom. It’s expediency. It’s going along to get along. It’s cowardice disguised as toughness. It’s a short cut to your fifteen minutes of fame through a swamp of dirty money and dirtier dealings.
Some of the first tier progressive blogs are screaming bloody hell at congress members who went back on their pledge to vote no if the public option wasn’t part of the final bill. Some of them are preparing fundraisers to back primary challengers of these nefarious lawmakers.
I was one of the strongest advocates for the public option and was pissed beyond a doubt that Pres. Obama failed us. And he did fail us. If he had embraced the public option early on (like he said he would during the campaign) there would have been little grief. Sure there would have been opposition but after a few of his barn-burner speeches, he would have had thousands of people calling the holdouts to change their votes. Sen. Max Baucus would have been forced to include it in the Senate bill despite the caterwauling of the three Republicans in his little cabal. If the president had realized or, more to the truth, come to the conclusion that he would be getting NO help from the GOP last spring, his campaign would have easily carried the votes for including the public option.
However, he was bound and determined to be the ‘Bipartisan’ President. He was going to include both sides of the aisle in the discussions and the debate. The GOP went along just far enough to give the president a small vestige of hope for compromise then played him like a cheap banjo. Fault for this lies with the president and his Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Emmanuel has never been a friend to the progressive wing of the party. He has always been a dealer, a back room manipulator who only gets ahead by playing others as fools.
As progressives got more successful at promoting the public option, he took hold of the president’s ear and poisoned the well as far it was concerned. Polite noises were made in support of the public option to appease the masses but there was no grand speeches, no full court press. President Obama let the public option die on the vine to appease the corporate money that Emmanuel needs to keep his K-street cred (and bankroll).
So, do we get our panties in a bunch because we were denied the public option? Do we, like some of the high and mighty blogs of the Left go out of our way to punish those who would not support our cause? Believe me I would usually say ‘Hell, YES!’ but not this time. There are some lawmakers who deserve our wrath. Sens. Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska being the vilest of the bunch. There are others who pissed me off but their positions on other issues are important enough to keep them around. Besides, one of the worst parts of challenging in a primary is that you make your candidate vulnerable in the general election. You have to be sure you can win both elections or you shoot yourself in the foot.
The bill has passed. We didn’t get everything we wanted. We woke up on Friday morning after the reconciliation vote and the public option wasn’t under the tree. Now, we can piss and moan, sulk around the room and make life miserable for those around us. Or we can sit down and enjoy what we did receive. There are others ways to get what we want. Let’s work on those. Our time is limited; the season of campaigning for the 2010 midterms is upon us so we can’t waste a lot of time rehashing the past. There are other issues that need our attention right now. Economic reform, consumer protection, unemployment, lots more – the list is pretty big.
It’s always better to tackle the next big issue after you get a win than after you lose one. I hope the Big Blogs understand that. Here at this lowly flyspeck on the blogosphere, we do.
Shake it off. This is a win. Get back to work.
So Mote It Be,