President Obama had a tremendous amount of goodwill when he was first elected. I don’t agree with the notion that he got all of this resistance automatically, simply because of external factors. He put health-care reform on the table at a time when we were in a major recession. It had been a big issue in the campaign, so there was a natural momentum to want to haul that through. But there was no bill. When George W. Bush was president, people would ask me about health-care reform, and I would say, having spent four years inside an administration, “If he wants that, he should put together a bill.” Bob Dole famously said, “The president proposes, the Congress disposes.” But there was no bill. The administration was sitting back, encouraging what became five different bills, three in the House and two in the Senate. It was very confusing, and it scared the American people.
I’ve already criticized the Rahm Emmanuel theory of health care reform extensively. In addition, there’s…well, Webb is kind enough to refute his own argument:
It could have been done in a different way. I, quite frankly, would have figured a narrower bill, but an actual bill. There are counterarguments to that, and I know you’re aware of them, where they were saying that the Clinton administration had put together a 1,100-page bill and it got ripped up. But you need a bill.
So, to summarize, Barack Obama succeeded in getting comprehensive health reform passed where Truman, Johnson, and Clinton either failed or didn’t. even. try. by publicly deferring to Congress. Bill Clinton tried to ram a health care reform bill right down Congress’s throat by going public, and is was a disaster on every level. Conclusion: Obama should have followed Clinton’s model. I can’t wait for Webb’s next interview, in which he argues that the Seahawks should have traded for Tim Tebow rather than drafting Russell Wilson.