The Bill He Wanted

by Patrick Appel

Greenwald targets the President again, this time over health care reform:

Let's repeat that: [Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), said]  "This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place."  Indeed it does.  There are rational, practical reasons why that might be so.  If you're interested in preserving and expanding political power, then, all other things being equal, it's better to have the pharmaceutical and health insurance industry on your side than opposed to you.  Or perhaps they calculated from the start that this was the best bill they could get.  The wisdom of that rationale can be debated, but depicting Obama as the impotent progressive victim here of recalcitrant, corrupt centrists is really too much to bear.

Greenwald then cites the White House threatening to not help House freshmen with re-election if they voted against the supplemental war spending bill to prove what the "White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want." This is false equivalency. The White House denies that they pressured freshmen on this issue, which is to be expected, but assuming that the Obama Administration did pressure freshmen congressmen in this manner, it doesn't prove that the Obama administration could have forced the Liebermans and Nelsons of the world to bend to its will. Freshman congressmen need to stay in the good graces of the White House and DNC much more than multi-term centrist senators. The White House might have calculated from the start that "this was the best bill they could get," but a large part of that calculation hinged upon how much they could strong arm centrist senators. That said, I don't doubt that this was a consideration:

The administration wants not only to prevent industry money from funding an anti-health-care-reform campaign, but also wants to ensure that the Democratic Party -- rather than the GOP -- will continue to be the prime recipient of industry largesse.