Liberal blogger Greg Sargent has an interesting piece out today about Jonathan Alter's new book "The Promise". I haven't read the book but Sargent offers some interesting teasers from Alter's analysis of the war going on inside the White House about the debate and wisdom of trying to pass what we know today as ObamaCare.
Rahm Emanuel spent nearly a week in the summer of 2009 aggressively trying to talk Obama out of moving forward with an ambitious version of health care reform, and by his own admission "begged" him not to do it, a book out next week reports.
"I begged him not to do this," Rahm admits to Alter. But according to the book, Obama overrode Rahm's advice, privately taking a bit of shot at Clinton by telling advisers that he hadn't been sent to the White House to do "school uniforms."
According to the book, when the health care wars were heating up in August of 2009, and centrist Dems were dragging their feet, Rahm mounted an aggressive push to get Obama to shelve ambitious reform.
"For the better part of a week in August Rahm made the case aggressively," the book says.
But the book paints Obama as resolute about moving forward, contradicting impressions at the time that Obama hadn't exercised enough leadership on the issue. "I feel lucky," he told advisers at the time, according to the book. "I think we can get it done."
At a subsequent meeting in the Oval Office on September 1st, the book reports, Robert Gibbs cracked a joke about bad poll numbers on health care.
"This is about whether we're going to get big things done," Obama said. "I wasn't sent here to do school uniforms."
Rahm then asked Obama if he still felt lucky
"My name is Barack Hussein Obama and I'm sitting here," Obama answered. "So yeah, I'm feeling pretty lucky."
In light of the recent news that ObamaCare will be much more expensive than what anyone estimated during the heated moments of the Stupak Deception and the Nelson Payoff some politicians and DC insiders are in full CYA mode (like Henry Waxman). Of course the cost of ObamaCare, if it can't be repealed or defunded, will cost way more than even the CBO's new $110 billion dollar estimated increase (which brings the total to _______ (fill in the blank). But as Sargent mentions, there are several interesting subplots to the story including the angle of Rahm Emanuel as a prophet not respected in his own land. The subsequent political fallout from the passage of ObamaCare, and the imminent losses of Democrats at the polls in November, certainly has engendered a lot of posturing by Democratic insiders. There have been several stories recently in the political press that portray Emanuel as the level headed, reasonable and cautious consigliere that warned his boss not to drive his Party off the cliff with an undertaking as controversial as ObamaCare.
But the gratuitous comment attributed to Obama in Sargent's article about the Clintons (and school uniforms) is some real raw meat. President Obama, while remaining generically popular in national polls, is getting crushed in the battleground states of the 2010 midterms. I've never dismissed the possibility of a Clinton challenge to Obama in 2012 for several reasons. First, if Hillary would have simply executed a nominally effective caucus state strategy in 2008 Obama would have lost. Second, there is the still in place Clinton campaign apparatus that could be mobilized immediately. And third there is the Ego of the Clintons and their drive for power. Granted, all politicians that strive for higher office must necessarily possess large egos, but the Clintons took that requisite to a new level in the 1990's.
The smooth, confident (and, as Vice President Biden says), "clean and articulate" President Obama will be looked at and perceived much differently if there is a Republican Majority in the House (and possibly the Senate) in January 2011. Something tells me Rahm Emanuel has figured this out while President Obama is still admiring the view from the Oval office.