President Obama did exactly what he said he would do on Thurday during the health care summit: moderate. It is a hard job to ferret out areas of agreement from two parties so far apart on the issue of revamping the health insurance system.
The Democrats, not surprisingly. have the most to lose. Their majority in the Congress is at stake given the number of congressmen either retiring or in deep electoral trouble and the country’s growing opposition to health care reform.
Republicans, who offer nothing substantive to the health reform issue are proving to be the better tacticians, at least in the short run, as their “just say no” strategy appears to whittle away at any support for the Democrats’ health care proposal.
What this means for Mr. Obama is that he has the option of either exercising the only power he has, the power of persuasion, or he can start playing the role of mediator and try to get both parties to yes. His power of persuasion may be slipping given Americans increasing lack of faith in how Mr. Obama is addressing both health care and the economy.
Besides, Mr. Obama abdicated any power of persuasion he may have had when he allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to highjack his healthcare legislation.
Mr. Obama is now left with mediation. But what we see in terms of being a go between may be a half hearted attempt to escape the bias he has toward the left on this issue.