Friday, February 5, 2010

What Real Leading Entails

Progressives demand that Obama show leadership on health care reform. Jonathan Cohn asks, "And what exactly would this "real leading" entail?" Here's one thing I can think of.

The current situation has House and Senate Democrats each wanting the other chamber to move first on the project of passing the Senate bill and patching it with a reconciliation vehicle. I'm sure they can work out some kind of deal, but people in the House intensely mistrust the Senate and that's gumming up the works. Once Pelosi and Reid have some kind of framework for how this is supposed to go, it'll be important to have a credible and neutral third party step forward, endorse their framework, and tell those on both sides who are reluctant to get with the program that that's how it's going to be, so everyone gets to work putting the strategy into effect. And Barack Obama is positioned to be that third party.

Really, I think the House could've run Bernstein's strategy and moved first, but that looks increasingly unlikely. So the Senate will have to be the first mover. I'm optimistic about the sidecar being sweet -- don't Democratic Senators want to grandstand against the Cornhusker Kickback while Ben Nelson and Republicans shamefully defend it by abusing vote-a-rama? And maybe we can get there without Barack doing anything. But it should be a lot easier to get people to fall in line with a strategy if the President certifies it as a fair deal and as the right strategy going forward.

Update: I just got an email from Organizing for America (the Obama group) saying that we should finish the job and pass health care reform. Obviously, this isn't real leadership yet, but it slightly raises the probability that real leadership is in the offing.
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