Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama as "referee"

There have been reports that President Obama will be asked to "referee" disputes among Democrats about features of healthcare reform that will appear in congressional bills -- especially the Senate bill that is now identified with Sen. Max Baucus.

Well of course!

What is long overdue is some Democratic party discipline. Obama has to spell out to the party what he absolutely needs from a health care plan, and then the party has to write it into the bill and present a unified front in supporting it. I'm sure that there are ways of twisting arms -- especially for a majority party. Senators Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, for example, have to be presented with an ultimatum: support a bill that the vast majority of the party supports, or face the consequences in terms of committee assignments or party support for some future bill that they want, or party support for their own re-election campaigns.

Are Democrats prepared to play hardball or do they want to lose the health care battle once again and sink to minority laughingstockness yet again. If Obama can't exercise strong leadership in his own party, what's the point of having him president?

I have nightmares about an escalating and perhaps unwinnable war in Afghanistan and another lost battle for healthcare. It's all the disadvantages of LBJ (war) and none of the advantages (Civil Rights Act, Medicare).

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