“‘I don’t understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo,’ said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ‘We’ve gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don’t understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform.’” In one of the dumbest unsourced administration quotes since “the reality-based community,” an unnamed White House official indulges his/her pique with progressives by marginalizing the public option.
Uh, what? First off, this is your plan, White House folks, and not really the type of thing you want to characterize as “left of the left.” Second, the “left of the left”, as most people know, would actually prefer a single-payer system, and in fact find the public option to be pretty weak tea — the type of compromise between comprehensive reform and the status quo that we should have ended up with at the close of negotiations, not used as the opening salvo of our health care strategy. Third, the quote demonstrates a troubling arrogance toward, and an idiotic contempt for, both the administration’s natural allies in this fight and the very people who put them in office. Spitting in the eye of progressives in order to seem moderate to folks who will never, ever agree with you is not only counter-productive, but pointless and insulting.
Bad messaging, bad politics…This is an amateur move, and no mistake. One hopes Mr./Mrs. Anon. at the very least caught an earful about it this morning. And that there are some people in and around the inner circle who think a little more highly of this same public option that the administration has pushing for months. And that the archetypal DLC/Third Way contempt for progressives evinced in the quote is nipped in the bud, like, yesterday. These type of “let’s scoff at the lefty fringe” insults, like the self-aggrandizing “centrist” careerists who make them, are not part of change we can believe in. In fact, they sound entirely too much like more of the same.
TLDR version: Trying to marginalize the lefties who are behind you in order to appease the righties who hate you is not a winning strategy, in health care or anything else. Nor is it at all what we voted for. Get it together.