In a typically good analysis of the recent uptick in support for the healthcare bill from moderates and liberals, Nate Silver says:
Liberals like the idea of being the scrappy underdog — being the fighter — and Obama, after a strangely aloof performance on the health care bill throughout 2009, has been fighting the good fight.
I’m sure there are many things that Obama would change about 2009 if he had a do-over, but being “aloof” probably isn’t one of them. One big difference between the Obama and Clinton healthcare reform efforts, aside from the obvious benefit Obama gains from hindsight, is that the current push is being led by someone who served in Congress.
Obama had first-hand knowledge of the preening, feckless and cowardly jackasses he was dealing with. If he were perceived as dictating the contents of the bill, or pushing Congress around, he’d have bruised the fragile egos of those, like Max Baucus, who wanted to be seen as the real authors of the bill. And if HCR became “Obama’s bill”, it would have been far too easy for the Democratic caucus to run away at the first sign of trouble. The path Obama took, though painful and ugly, is probably the only way that we could have gotten as far as we have.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch a few clips from the new C-SPAN archive and try to imagine what more Obama could have done to corral this herd of bloviating assholes.