While his supporters and apologists, including some leading media figures, pretend that Obama is actually in favor of single payer insurance, his stance has been clear from the start, and is diametrically opposed to it.
By Glen Ford
President Obama is mad, again, at the usual suspects: progressives that insist on speaking out in the people's interest on single-payer healthcare. He picked up the phone last week to warn lefties and unions to watch their mouths and get with his fuzzy program on healthcare – although even White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel doesn't seem to know what that program is. "For Obama to 'win' his debate, the American people must lose."
President Obama has escalated his campaign to suppress single-payer healthcare advocates, hinting darkly that there will be repercussions if unions and activists persist in harassing his fellow center-right Democrats. In a pre-Fourth of July teleconference with Democratic congressional leaders, Obama lectured , "We shouldn't be focussing resources on each other. We ought to be focussed on winning this debate."
The president was attempting to shut down paid media messages seeking to pressure corporatist Democrats to support some sort of public healthcare option – an option that Obama claims to favor, although in terms so vague his own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, framed the issue as "negotiable ." The ads have been embarrassing to rightist Democrats who are Obama's true political soulmates and a bridge to Republicans he seeks to woo.
Obama's modus operandi is by now well known. His reflexive instinct is to lash out to his left when frustrated, to demand progressives stand down and await his marching orders – even when, as is the case most of the time, Obama's own direction is unclear, at best.
The objects of his ire are advertisements or fundraisers produced by MoveOn, Health Care for America and Democracy for America. MoveOn's advertising plans successfully pressured North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan to endorse the idea of a public health care plan. No matter. Obama demands that the Left – such as it is – stand down and let Obama do his thing, whatever that is.
The president's admonition that progressives focus "on winning this debate" rather than "focussing resources on each other" makes sense only to those operating under the delusion that Obama is in a real fight with corporate healthcare profiteers. In the real world, Obama is in shifting stages of embrace with Healthcare Inc. Debate is permitted only to the Right of his own fuzzy position, while the Left is shushed and hectored.