by Conor Clarke

On one side of the left we have heavyweights like Paul Krugman arguing that Obama "has been weirdly reluctant to make the moral case for universal care." And on the other side of the left we have anonymous "Democratic strategists" bopping the president on the head for making the very same "discredited" moral argument. Hopefully the two sides believe their arguments, and if so they should feel free to continue making them. But these two arguments really are mutually exclusive, and it seems to me that, as a result, just about any tactic the president picks will come in for a nice round of heckling from a chunk of his base. (And I'm sure that soon we will hear about how the substance of the message was never the problem; it was the administration's inability to pick one message and stick with it.)

Anyway, I believe the relevant cliche here is "damned if you do it and damned if you don't," but I am also open to metaphors involving rocks an hard places, or perhaps the elegant simplicity of "Obama is screwed no matter what he does."

Update: In response to an email about this, let me abandon all pretense of subtly and make clear that, No, I do not consider this a "deep thought" about the health-care debate. That was an SNL reference. I consider this an embarrassingly shallow and obvious thought about the difficult tactical position in which the president finds himself. Furthermore, I believe it is traditional to use scare quotes when one doesn't take an argument seriously. When I refer to the view that the moral argument for health-care has been "discredited," I am not endorsing that position.

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