Incrementalism, ain’t gonna git it done!

Yesterday, watching Meet the Press, we saw a closing of the usual left/right divide. Closed because all of the panelists agreed that the health-care reform pushed for by progressives has failed.

Transcript quotes, 20 Dec 2009

DAVID GREGORY: Markos Moulitsas, I want to start with you. You heard David Axelrod say this is in keeping with the president’s principles; it is in keeping, this compromise on health care, with the way the president campaigned on this. And this is the bill, essentially, the reform that Americans deserve. What do you say?

MR. MARKOS MOULITSAS: Yeah, I don’t think this is a reform bill. I mean, I think it’s very clear, this is not insurance or healthcare reform. What it is, it’s allowing more people, 30 million people, to buy into the existing broken system. It’s very important to keep in mind that healthcare insurance is not the same as health care.

MR. GREGORY: Joe Scarborough, what has the president achieved?

MR. JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, he’s made a lot of people with insurance stock a lot richer. I mean, this is great for insurance companies. They’re going to reform the system. Neither side wanted to take on the insurance companies. Neither side wanted to get rid of the antitrust exemptions. Neither side really pushed hard to allow you or me or anybody here to buy across state lines. And as Howard Dean said, and this is a devastating fact, insurance companies’ stocks reached a 52-year high on Friday after this so-called reform bill got its 60th vote.

MR. GREGORY: Tavis Smiley, you’ve always advocated for the public option being part of this. You heard David Axelrod say that, you know, the president was for it, but we know that he didn’t really fight for it. And Governor Dean just said, “Look, without a public option in the ultimate compromise legislation, this cannot be considered reform.”

MR. TAVIS SMILEY: Yeah. Throughout the campaign, the president promised change. We have change on the horizon here but, unfortunately, it’s small change. I find myself kind of like John McCain agreeing with Howard Dean, here I am agreeing with my friend Joe Scarborough.

MR. SCARBOROUGH: Oh, God.

MR. SMILEY: I think the real winners here are the insurance industry.

MR. GREGORY: Ed Gillespie, speaking for conservatives…

MR. ED GILLESPIE: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: …what has the president achieved?

MR. GILLESPIE: Well, I think he’s achieved actually a lot in terms of expanding the size and scope and power of the federal government. And the fact is, this bill is an unmitigated disaster. It’s going to increase the cost to the federal government on health care, it doesn’t bend the cost curve down. Spending is going to go up on health care. It increases–it’s going to increase personal insurance costs to consumers, people are going to have higher premiums.

for those who may quibble, the preceding is not an exact quote – I cut out much of what was said. Just go and read the transcript at the link provided, but it is meant to provide a brief, and accurate, idea of the thinking on both the left and the right about the Senate’s health care bill.

Tavis Smiley’s summation was best.

That ain’t gonna git it done!

An essay by Drew Westen at Huffington Post: Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator, is an accurate assessment of the President and his actions in office to date. Progressives can only hope that the man they voted for last year will make a reappearance.

Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn’t hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president’s leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress’s penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.

What’s costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn’t a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

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