New Orleans For five years whenever I’ve been asked for advice from various national campaigns whether immigration reform or healthcare or living wages or whatever, when it’s come to how to move President Obama, I’ve always argued, don’t lobby, don’t email, don’t tweet, point all the heat you can generate directly at him. His record has always been that he will make some concessions. None of my advice is meant to be disrespectful nor to imply that pressure will guarantee the precise results sought, but nonetheless any analysis of his record of response and reaction to hard heat, is that he always gives up something, and often way more than he should have. Unfortunately, watching the Tea Party, the shutdown mess, and the rearguard attack on the Affordable Care Act, no matter how quixotic and improbable, it’s fairly clear that the Republican Taliban also had about the same analysis and more will than progressives to make the fight.
Now it’s with real pleasure that I can say that finally I’m wrong, and President Obama is holding the line by finally wisely reckoning that since he is unable to negotiate without giving concessions to opponents committed to bargaining in bad faith, the best strategy is to refuse to negotiate at all. Yes, this is a dangerous strategy, but, damn, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks for his work in the trenches and not for his speech for the Nobel Prize.
It could blow up in Obama’s face, and there are still signs of sniveling everywhere for example in the reports of little toehold compromise discussions on special interest pieces of the Affordable Care Act to curry favor from medical device manufacturers, fans of Cadillac policies including some unions, and various delays. Hopefully Obama will hold the line there as well, since the real changes that are needed are on closing the big loopholes like the fact that rip-off, high deductible policies are being approved for big companies, and family members are being trapped outside of the exchanges by these same pretend-policies.
This Administration has a couple of years left. There’s no question we are in for a horror show for another year through the mid-term elections, but the only chance Obama has or any of us have who support progressive policies, is if the President holds the line for a change, and manages to rewrite the narrative so that what is won is finally done, and we can move forward, not keep failing to have a “meeting of the minds.”