64

Obama’s ability to recover

We should not underestimate his capability to adjust, reset, and recoup the advantage in the healthcare debate


 

obamaOver the past month, the healthcare debate has taken a dramatic turn for the worse if you are in favour of reform. The conduct at the town hall meetings has become an even greater topic of discussion than the actual content of the reform package, and opponents seem to have gained an edge. Barack Obama’s people may have made the right decision by involving legislators early in the process, but it did give opponents an opportunity to organize beyond the lobbyists and marketing agencies who derailed a similar effort in 1993. This time, “real” people are coming out to the meetings, conveying the impression that a grassroots movement is opposing Obama’s reforms. Polls are starting to reflect the impact of the protest, leading many to ask whether President Obama is in trouble. If he fails to achieve his number one domestic priority, what impact will it have on the rest of his first term? Could it mark the beginning of a Republican resurgence, a first step towards regaining control of Congress as early as 2010 and mounting a significant challenge for the White House in 2012?

In a recent interview with Time, Obama conceded that “this has been the most difficult test for me.” The conservative movement, with the help of Republicans in Congress and the support of right wing talk show hosts, has been leading the charge. The vaunted Obama electoral machine seems to have been caught off guard and has had to resort to putting Obama at the forefront of the debate in a bid to bring some kind of civility to the process. Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week was devoid of the shouting and screaming that Democratic representatives and senators have faced in recent weeks. But the security and decorum of a meeting with the president is not enough to turn this around. It will take an approach that will somehow neutralize the town hall noise circuit, refocus the debate on the real stakes and solutions (including their social and economic costs), and offer reassurances that progress will not be made at the expense of those who are satisfied with their healthcare protection.

The key issue that must be addressed is accessibility, meaning insuring the 47 million who aren’t currently covered while not putting those who have access to insurance at risk. Another will be to ensure quality care and guarantee that patients are not inhibited in their choice of doctors and care. Dealing with rising costs in a sluggish economy will also have to be addressed; otherwise, the reform will either fail or be cosmetic in scope. In terms of the measures proposed, the question of providing a public option or expanding a newly-financed Medicare program will have to be tackled. Reforming existing private health insurance programs with respect to their policies on pre-existing conditions and portability should also be the subject of contentious debate. All this to say that the process will continue to be complex and we can expect the proponents of the status quo and the special interests to be as ferocious as ever. This could be the biggest test of the Obama administration in its first term. Will he be up to the challenge?

Barack Obama owes his success as much to his obvious skills and talent as to his recuperative powers. Throughout his political career, Obama has always generated some interest and curiosity, but he never starts ahead of the pack.When he does take the lead, he has been known to fall behind, only to somehow recover later on. In the race for the Democratic nomination, Obama lagged behind Hillary Clinton for all of 2007 and for a short spell in March and April of 2008. In the presidential campaign, his performance in the early part of September was grounds for concern. Yet, at a crucial moment in mid-September, he clearly outperformed John McCain when it came to response and temperament. More recently, following his initial misstep in the Gates-Crowley affair, he was adept in reversing course with his “beer diplomacy.” We should not underestimate his capability to adjust, reset, and recoup the advantage in the healthcare debate.

Throughout the healthcare turmoil, Obama’s approval numbers have remained mostly steady at 53-54 per cent. What is most reassuring for supporters of the Obama reform package, though, is the president himself. As he has said, he is not on a 24-hour news cycle and poll numbers will not be his chief concern. Even in the face of adversity, he appears calm and always in control. He has the numbers in Congress and, while he preaches bipartisanship, it is unlikely the Republicans will take the needed steps. So he will concentrate even more on the Blue Dogs, having amply demonstrated to liberal progressives that they will need to compromise or they will get no reform at all.

Obama is right to say the process has never been so advanced, and it is clear he has been engaging in some LBJ-type cajoling behind the scenes in recent weeks. Despite the opposition, it is fair to say that the alliance for change is stronger than it was in 1993. This is where Obama has played a significant role. Most important, though, Obama has an intangible quality that may do more than anything else to carry his healthcare reform across the finish line by late autumn: his ability to recuperate when he loses ground.


 

Obama’s ability to recover

  1. This time, “real” people are coming out to the meetings, conveying the impression that a grassroots movement is opposing Obama's reforms.

    Because, of course, they couldn't possibly be real people, or genuinely be a grassroots movement opposing Obama's policies. That would just be ludicrous.

    Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week was devoid of the shouting and screaming that Democratic representatives and senators have faced in recent weeks.

    That'll happen, when you stack the room with your supporters generally, and members of your campaign wing specifically.

    Will he be up to the challenge?

    No.

    All political careers eventually end in failure, but from how badly he's handled an electorate growing less enamoured of him every day, I have something of a suspicion that Obama will leave the presidency a more broken and bitter loser than most.

  2. I've always predicted Obama would be a one-term president.

    I reviewed his background and voting record before he became President. Anyone who did this could see, plain as day, that he was a hard-core leftist who make the Canadian NDP look centrist and mainstream.

    How did he pull it off? He hid his leftist radical roots and was in the right place at the right time: people were fed up with the Bushes and the Clintons and wanted a change. But they didn't want a commie. He hid his commieness but it's seeping out of his pores now.

    The Republicans will clean up in the mid-terms. I've been saying that for some time now too.

    • Dude, you may want to loosen that tinfoil hat of yours.

    • He will get climate change , health care and two terms!

    • No idea how you could say he's left of the NDP. He's demonstrably right of the Liberals. No idea what people are smoking these days.

    • You are correct Jarrid. We are only 8 months into the presidency. His honeymoon has been a disaster.

      Job approval numbers from Rasmussen (they have been dropping steadily from day one):

      08/15/2009 (Rasmussen)

      approve 48%
      disapprove 52%

      At the same point in his presidency, George Bush's approval numbers were above 60%. In his second term, his approval numbers were similar at the same point in time (about 44%).

      The Democrats are headed for a disaster at the midterms, all the polls are showing it.

      • I too sometimes wonder about the stupidity I hear from the US . I was a pro PC party supprter under Mulroney and Clark but these guys in the US are nutcases in spades. Lying is an elevated form of discussion for them .
        BUT THEN , I read Jarrid and avr and I see we have some wingnuts of our own . Choosing Rasmussen and forgetting Gallup,Zogby , Ipsos Reid and RCP average is evidence of `lying as an elevated form of discussion`. I bet these guys are for the HARPER clique and the Canadian Alliance. Conservatives in Canada continue to be inspired by Kristol , beck , Dobbs and Limbaugh .
        OBAMA BEWARE ! And pay no attention to their delusion.

        • Heck, you can choose any polling firm you wish. The average numbers from RCP I posted below. Rasmussen is a daily tracker, unlike the others, so it is quite popular and potentially more accurate for that reason. And learn some grammar.

  3. "The key issue that must be addressed is accessibility, meaning insuring the 47 million who aren't currently covered while not putting those who have access to insurance at risk."

    "So he will concentrate even more on the Blue Dogs, having amply demonstrated to liberal progressives that they will need to compromise or they will get no reform at all."

    The public option seems to be becoming increasingly unlikely.

  4. sheessh… nevermind.

    • No , no, Blues, go back to asserting your intellectual superiority.

      • No asserting is necessary when it comes to the wingnuts. It's just the default response.

  5. This time, “real” people are coming out to the meetings, conveying the impression that a grassroots movement is opposing Obama's reforms.

    Because, of course, they couldn't possibly be real people, or genuinely be a grassroots movement opposing Obama's policies. That would just be ludicrous.

    Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week was devoid of the shouting and screaming that Democratic representatives and senators have faced in recent weeks.

    That'll happen, when you stack the room with your supporters generally, and members of your campaign wing specifically. The gormless way this is phrased is is sort of like expressing surprise that a Hezbollah rally might have some attendees that don't really care all much that for Israel.

    Will he be up to the challenge?

    No.

    All political careers eventually end in failure, but from the tone-deaf and ham-fisted way he's handled an electorate growing less enamoured of his ideas every day, I have something of a suspicion that Obama will leave the presidency a more broken and bitter loser than most.

    • Well.. if a "grassroots movement" of people is a small group that specifically organizes itself to attend these meetings across the country and present the impression that they are in the majority: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2009/0… then maybe not.

      So wait.. on one hand you're saying that opposing Obama's policies, even though there's evidence that it's not really "grassroots" at all, but highly organized to stack the meetings, shows people in general don't like it, but when this group *doesn't* show up at a convention, it's Obama who's stacking the meeting?

      Man.. how does your skull hold the cognitive dissonance without an implosion?

      • There's plenty of evidence. All polls are showing more opposition to the legislation than support.

        And you are the one that is daft. It's called "stacking" the meeting when the people running the meeting (ie the president or members of congress) are the ones filling the room. That's the difference. Do you understand, or should I use smaller words? It's not "stacking" just because there may be people organizing. It's stacking when the people presenting the information are the same people that are responding to it. That turns the whole thing into a farce. It's fine for Democrats to organize participation in the meeting. It's not fine for Obama or for other government officials to do so, because then there is no point having it at all.

  6. i read these lunatic fringers from the right and they have been wrong all along on Obama. Jarrid is doing wishful thinking. avr is just ill informed and spews Fox talking points without too much thinking .
    Obama is doing the right thing . Relatives of mine in the US tell me horror stories about insurance companies refusing certain types of care and people getting stuck with bills of $85,000 and having to remortgage their house .
    the US has been talking about reforming health care for decades and they are doing this because it works .
    right wingers and the Republicans never tell what they would do . They controlled the WH for 20 of 28 years and Congress from 1994 to 2006 and didNOTHING . Now they want Obama to fail by using that dim wit Palin who makes up stories about Death Panels.
    What hypocrits!!!!!!

    • Yeah, no idea how Obama is "left of the NDP" when he is proposing health care reforms that are substantially to the right of the Conservatives…

      • If he had his way, he would nationalize the entire economy.

        That's why he doesn't care what form of government control of health care is the result (he doesn't seem to care about the details and contradicts himself all the time), as long as it is controlled by government. He just wants to make sure government is in charge.

        Palin's commentary eventually resulted in clauses being removed from potential legislation.

      • In the legislation, "stakeholders" would decide on:

        11 “(B) The level of treatment indicated under subpara
        12 graph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treat-
        13 ment to an indication to limit some or all or specified
        14 interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may in-
        15 clude indications respecting, among other items—
        16 “(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the
        17 patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac
        18 or pulmonary problems;
        19 “(ii) the individual's desire regarding transfer
        20 to a hospital or remaining at the current care set-
        21 ting;
        22 “(iii) the use of antibiotics; and
        23 “(iv) the use of artificially administered nutri
        24 tion and hydration.”.

        Yes, it's true, the legislation actually stipulated that the government has a say in the level of anti-biotics and the use of technologies to prolong life.

        In other words: death panels – government pushing to pull the plug on grandma.

        • Lies , Lies , Lies —Palin knows she lied as well, scf (another Jarrid type wingnut).
          Anyway , who really listens to her outside of Beck , Limbaugh , ETC…….

          • That is directly out of the legislation. Read it. Are you able to read?

            I didn't write it, the Democrats did. That was the proposed legislation (those clauses have since been deleted thanks to Palin).

            "an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions"

            "the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems"

          • Who's the wingnut "janice"? Screaming Lies, lies, lies, when people post what the legislation ACTUALLY SAYS is a completely braindead response. Typical lefty. Try to change the subject when your lies are discovered. Give your freaking head a shake!
            The MAJORITY of Americans now oppose the legislation because they are actually, horror of horrors, finding out what is really in it.
            Name me ONE THING that the government manages effectively, on either side of the border.

      • Wall Street Journal: "growing complaints over the provision are leading key lawmakers to conclude that the health overhaul should leave out any end-of-life counseling provisions. A group in the Senate Finance Committee that is attempting to craft Congress's only bipartisan health bill has decided to exclude such a measure, Senate aides said this week" (Adamy, 8/13). "

        These "death panels" were in the legislation, using the name " 'Advance Care Planning Consultation'". The reason for the legislation was to save money on end-of-life care.

        Palin was right.

        • The counseling is 100 % optional. It would take a conspiracy of millions of doctors along with the hundreds of thousands of politicians (on both sides), civil servants (of every level of government), corporate employees, health care administrators, etc, to realize 'death panels' from that section of the bill.

          • Is that so? The word "optional" does not appear in the legislation. Read my following comments below. And this:

            Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 aren't quite “purely voluntary,” as Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) asserts. To me, “purely voluntary” means “not unless the patient requests one.” Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive — money — to do so. Indeed, that's an incentive to insist.

            This is a far cry from the hippocratic oath.

          • counseling = harm?

            So, the cash incentive (Medicare paying for the counseling rather than the patient) is their cash incentive? That is an extremely weak position to extract "death panels" from.

          • It's a cash incentive to suggest to people that treatment be limited in order to reduce costs overall. In other words, instead of suggesting to patients what can be done to help, doctors will change roles and suggest to patients what can be done to save money for the government (pull the plug).

          • Frankly, I'm not sure how anyone defines a "death panel". So I don't know whether it is fair to extract "death panels" because the term is not accurately defined. But the legislation does suggest that treatment be limited for patients with severe problems. Read it, below. That sounds like "death panel" to me.

        • "Palin was right"

          What does end-of-life care have to do with her disabled child Trig? Isn't that what she claimed, that he would be put before these "death panels"? Perhaps you can show the legislation which states this.

          So if by "right" you mean a liar who shamelessly uses her child's disbility to fearmonger (or promote herself) then I agree. She is as "right" as they come.

          • I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

            As far as the legislation is concerned, Trig, like any other high-cost patient, would be subject to a consulation during which the doctor would suggest reducing treatment to save government money. That is what that the legislation is about, and that is likely what Palin said, if she did indeed talk about her son Trig, although it is usually the media that likes to talk about Trig and not Palin.

  7. I was going to make smug comments about it not being Obama's fault but a considerable portion of Americans too insular, and yes, stupid, to be able to figure out their own self-interest. I was going to make sighing comments about Americans, wonder how a country with such noble beginnings had turned into THIS, and wonder when they would ever learn.

    Then I read the first two comments and realized it's wise not to forget its not just an American failing.

    • I think you're lacking self awareness if you think it's wise to be smug and condescending while talking about other people's failings. Unless, of course, you think smugness is a positive trait.

      • I will join you in an attempt to reduce the amount / level of smugness and condescension, starting with this board.

        • Why don't we all seek to raise the level of argument rather than pander to fools?

  8. Funny how Parisella would claim
    "Throughout the healthcare turmoil, Obama's approval numbers have remained mostly steady at 53-54 per cent. "

    When I look at the same graph, I see them dropping. Steadily. Ever since Obama's initiatives on energy, health care and simulus became public knowledge. But especially since health care became the focus.

    January 29: 63
    March 14: 61
    April 14: 61
    May 14: 61
    June 14: 60
    July 14: 58
    August 7: 54
    August 14: 53

    How on earth anyone could honestly claim those are "steady" numbers is beyond my imagination.

    • Good point.

      Here's a plot: Obama approval rating: Rasmussen daily tracking poll

      Yep. Numbers remaining steady. Especially during the last month. Not a downward slope to be seen.

      I thought this was one of Parisella's better articles overall (at least he didn't throw any unsubstantiated smears at the Right as per his usual schtick) but there had to be a falsehood somewhere, or it wouldn't be vintage Parisella.

    • Good point.

      Here's a plot: Obama approval rating: Rasmussen daily tracking poll

      Yep. Numbers remaining steady. Especially during the last 3 months. Nary a downward slope to be seen.

      I thought this was one of Parisella's better articles overall (at least he didn't throw any unsubstantiated smears at the Right as per his usual schtick) but there had to be a falsehood somewhere, or it wouldn't be vintage Parisella.

    • Good point.

      Here's a plot: Obama approval rating: Rasmussen daily tracking poll

      Yep. Numbers remaining steady. Especially during the last 3 months. Nary a downward slope to be seen.

      I thought this was one of Parisella's better articles overall (at least he didn't throw any unsubstantiated smears at the Right as per his usual schtick) but there had to be a falsehood thrown in somewhere, or it wouldn't be vintage Parisella.

      • Nice graph.

        Interesting, whenever it comes to polls and Obama, right wingers tend to favor Rasmussen. Similar to Canadian Liberals affection for Nanos it appears.

        Anyways, surprise surprise, Obama's numbers have dropped since his inauguration. The health care debate has only heated in the last few months. So Parisella isn't that far off

        • Here's what the Gallup poll you linked shows for approval:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before you linked it while suggesting that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research, like the devoted lefty columnist that he is.

        • Here's what the Gallup poll you linked shows for approval:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before posting the suggestion that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research, devoted lefty columnist that he is.

        • Here's what the Gallup poll you linked shows for approval:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before posting the suggestion that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research, like the devoted lefty columnist that he is.

        • Thanks for driving home my point, Blues. When I look at that Gallup graph, there is an obvious downward trend. And Gaunilon has been so kind as to write down the numbers to prove it.

          There is essentially no difference from Rasmussen, both firms are showing a drop at the same rate.

        • Here's what the Gallup poll you linked shows for Obama's approval rating:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before posting the suggestion that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Notice that the trend is monotonically down, with a sharper downward slope in the last month as health care took its toll.

          Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research. He is a classic 70's era lefty columnist, when writers could get away with this stuff because ordinary folk had no way to check the data.

        • Here's what the Gallup poll you linked shows for Obama's approval rating:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before posting the suggestion that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Notice that the trend is monotonically down, with a sharper (i.e. double) downward slope in the last month as health care took its toll.

          Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research. He is a classic 70's era lefty, when writers could get away with this stuff because ordinary folk had no way to check the data.

        • Here's what the Gallup poll which you linked shows for Obama's approval rating:

          May 12-14: 63
          June 12-14: 61
          July 12-14: 59
          Aug 12-14: 55

          Did you look at it before posting the suggestion that Rasmussen is somehow more favourable to the Right? Notice that the trend is monotonically down, with a sharper (i.e. double) downward slope in the last month as health care took its toll.

          Parisella (like you) is stating his general impression rather than doing a little research. He is a classic 70's era lefty, when writers could get away with this stuff because ordinary folk had no way to check the data.

          • Looks like Obama has been getting worried about the numbers. Obama has not indicated if he prefers Rasmussen, Gallup, or the RCP average, which would assist Blues Clair in her pursuit of the left-wing firms.

            http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/08/024

            Obama has dropped the public option. To give Parisella credit, he does note this element as a source of tension.

            Now, you have to conclude that he is worried about losing the whole farm, because my impression from Obama's numerous speeches and interviews indicated to me that the public option was essential.

          • the public option was essential

            I should clarify: essential to Obama.

          • Yes, supposedly he's stated that he'd risk becoming a 1-term Pres rather than drop the public option, so now we see whether he's truly committed or just another dishonest pol.

            Methinks option 2 is coming to the fore.

      • ""Throughout the healthcare turmoil"

        Parisella's link. The rcp poll average for the past month… July 16th (55.8%) to August 16 (53.5%). Parisella isn't that far off..

        Otherwise, as Parisella noted, Obama is losing ground on health care reform.

        And it's not for the lack of funds…

        "Supporters of Mr. Obama's plan to overhaul the system have outspent opponents, with $24 million worth of advertising, compared with $9 million from opponents. An additional $24 million has been broadly spent in support of overhauling the system without backing a specific plan."
        – New York Times
        Competing Ads on Health Care Plan Swamp the Airwaves
        August 15, 2009

        • Firstly, I don't think the turmoil started in mid-July. By then, Obama was hoping the Bill would be finished and ready for congressional vote before the August recess. Secondly, the numbers are declining at a rate of about 1% per week. For anyone to suggest they are steady is ridiculous, IMHO.

          But, I agree with you, other than that, Parisella was fair.

  9. It's long passed time that Obama pulled out the whupping stick on the blue dogs.

    Something along the lines of "if you want my support (or that of the party) getting re-elected you had better not kill the public option".

    Threats to run oponents in primaries seemed to be effective for the GOP, he should take a page out of their playbook for this reform.

  10. It is not out of line to call Obama a communist. Take his health care plan, purchase of GM, and most importantly, his warm embrace of Hugo Chavez, who commits violence and intimidation in the name of political control and its pretty easy to become suspicious.

    • Obviously , Eric does not know the meaning of the word `communist`.
      This is the level of intervention we are getting from the right wing conservative Republicans .Not too smart !

    • So I guess Harper is a communist too eh? What with his purchase of GM and all.

      Obama has not "warmly embraced" Chavez– the footage of their meeting in the spring clearly showed Obama being merely polite but wanting as little to do with Hugo as humanly possible.

  11. It would seem, as with the town hall meetings south of the border, that the crazies have taken over this message board…

  12. I am a huge Obama fan, but I think in order for him to win this debate, he needs to have a clear plan on he will pay for his healthcare program. America is one of the most disorganized countries among industrialized nations. Will illegal immigrants who work under the table without paying taxes be covered under his plan? In order for the government to find sufficient funds to insure everyone, majority of the people will have to work. There are so many issues that need to be addressed before the public can be at ease with his reform.. otherwise, today's polls don't mean anything.. If Obama's healthcare reform succeeds, the poll numbers will grow tremendously but again another issue can rise up to sink them even further.

  13. I am with Fabian .But the Obama needs to get behind specifics to counter the Republican wingnuts .

  14. my book is that he is losing this and fast .

  15. obama cannot recover from this, because he was given a blank check at the beginning of 2009 and has simply raised the national deficit and just doesn't make sense to almost all americans.

    • You are wrong . The depression showed the need to spend in such a deep recession . As for bailouts , they were necessary or the alternative was worse . Like FDR , he 'll recover .

Sign in to comment.