Ignore what you read in the papers, watch on cable television, or are force-fed by many of the pundits who don't know what is really happening. Here is the story: If Ted Kennedy votes on cloture, there is a high probability the Democrats have 60 votes. If Kennedy cannot vote, but resigns and is replaced by a new Democrat from Massachusetts, the Democrats probably have 60 votes.
Today the greatest senator who ever served performed one of the most valiant acts in the history of the Senate by asking Massachusetts to pass a law giving the governor the power to appoint his successor. This noble move will electrify and rally healthcare supporters across the nation and provide a gigantic booster shot to advocates of the public option.care
Virtually none of the pundits have gotten this right. There are two distinct issues: first, the fate of the public option, and second, the fate of the Democratic and Republican parties based on how they handle healthcare and other issues.
Regarding the parties, any pundit who claims this is a defeat of the Democrats or a victory for the Republicans deserves the response Barney Frank gave in a town meeting: "What planet are you living on?" In the NBC poll the Republicans have a negative rating on healthcare that rises above 60 percent and a positive rating that has shrunk to a humiliating and disastrous near-20 percent, which is lower than George W. Bush at his lowest. In the new Pew poll, Democrats have a general favorable rating of 49 percent while Republicans have a favorable rating of 40 percent.
For any pundits who think this is good for Republicans, please sign up for my math class. You flunk. F-minus is your grade. It is astonishing and laughable that any pundit can call a negative rating of over 60 percent on healthcare anything but a debacle for the Republicans. It is amazing that any pundit can claim that a Republican Party running 9 percent behind the party of Obama, Reid and Pelosi is anything other than a disaster for Republicans.
The pundits are also wrong about Obama and the public option. The fact is, that Obama never publicly waged a defense or support for the public option. Even when he said it was essential, it was a mention in passing. I wrote a post here many weeks ago asking whether Obama was preparing to surrender.
Of course what we witnessed last Saturday and Sunday was an attempt by Obama and the White House to surrender on the public option. It was so crude and poorly handled, as much of their case on healthcare has been, that it outraged huge numbers of Democrats throughout the nation and in the Congress.
Having attempted to surrender on Saturday and Sunday, the White House surrendered their surrender on Monday, saying they still support the public option. Then, on Tuesday, they put out the bizarre, ridiculous and obviously untrue spin that "nothing has changed." Of course, the village idiot knows exactly what changed: everything changed.
From Saturday, when the president did not even mention the public option once in his New York Times op-ed, to Sunday, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs distanced themselves from the public option, to Monday, when they reiterated their support for the public option, to Tuesday, when the progressive outrage mounted to ferocious levels, it is laughable to say nothing changed when the White House was twisting and turning and changing by the hour.
The quote in The Washington Post from a "senior White House adviser" criticizing "the left of the left" for actually promoting what we thought was the president's program on the public option, means this:
There was panic in the White House from those who wanted to sell out the public option, so they ridicule and demean and slander the overwhelming majority of Democrats in America, and in the House and Senate, with the bogus smear that they are "the left of the left."
I sent a formal request to the White House asking whether the "senior White House adviser" meant that the Speaker of the House is the left of the left. No answer yet. Is Kennedy the left of the left? Are a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate the left of the left?
I found this reprehensible for the same reason I found Lanny Davis's recent post here on The Hill's Pundits Blog reprehensible. They equate rightists who bring guns to town meetings, who lie about major provisions in the bill, and who yell and shout and disrupt town meetings with those who support what we thought was the president's position in favor of the public option.
The senior White House aide, and Davis, use the language of the right to make the attack of the right, against the heart and soul of those who supported the president and supported the president's plan. This is not about any left of the left, which is the kind of nonsense that has gotten the president in trouble. And no, Lanny, there is no equivalence on this between alleged extremists on both sides.
The extremist tactics and the dishonest claims have not come from both sides. Of course, individual liberals have said things I might disapprove of, but in toto to equate those who support the president's plan for the public option with the extremist tactics of the right, or to refer to those who support the president's public option as the left of the left, is a slander and defamation of many of the president's most loyal supporters and a major reason for the growing outrage among them.
Now Ted Kennedy, the poker player with a mastery of Congress and the fighter for healthcare for the people, has made the master move at the perfect moment.