Top Obama advisers walk away from public option

There was a reason the White House sent out Obama’s top three advisers to the talk shows today. As I said below, “they’re selling something as we approach the final push for health insurance reform.” Unfortunately, what they’re selling, most of us aren’t buying. Today, the White House message is: “We’re getting soft on the public option.” So, it’s clear the Rahm wing (and not Jarrett and Axelrod)) is controlling the message and the strategy. That’s not good:

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Obama believes the public plan is still the ”best possible choice,” but she said he’s not demanding it. David Axelrod, Obama’s top adviser, said Senate opposition in both parties means ”we have to work through these issues.”

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is deeply involved with congressional Democrats in trying to merge the various committee proposals, also appeared to set aside the public option.

”It’s not the defining piece of health care. It’s whether we achieve both cost control, coverage, as well as the choice,” Emanuel said.

I just don’t think these folks get how, hmmm, how can I put this, how nonsensical it sounds to say, Obama really thinks the public option is “the best possible choice,” but he won’t fight for it. Maybe they think that messaging works. It doesn’t. Sounds weak. If he’s not going to fight for the “best possible choice,” what will he fight for? That’s the question I have.

Obama would be wise to listen to Jarrett and Axelrod on this one. They’ve been with him longer.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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