Obama: on the side of the angels (just don’t tell anyone)

Obama’s dual health care strategy: hidden-hand negotiations for specifics, bullhorns for general morale.

Sources say that Obama’s aides are working steadily for Pass the Damn Bill with a reconciliation sidecar.  This follows increasingly strong rhetorical statements over the last few days that he wanted a big and Democratic solution to health reform, not a useless and bipartisan one.

Obama’s strategy is now clear: use a hidden hand for specifics, a bullhorn for general morale.  (WE NEED TO ACT LIKE DEMOCRATS &passthedamnbillalready)

The only question left at this point is whether this is artful Kabuki or inept Kabuki.  My money’s on artful Kabuki.  And it wasn’t there a few days ago.

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.

5 thoughts on “Obama: on the side of the angels (just don’t tell anyone)”

  1. After Lieberman's "no public option but I'm okay with Medicare expansion — wait, liberals like it? — then no Medicare expansion!" routine, I think the quiet route is the way to go.

    Come to think of it, has the big mass appeal public push strategy ever worked for anything other than starting wars? Is progressive change just better done on the sly?

  2. @Tom in Ma: one of the advantages of being a pretty obscure blogger is that one gets to be exoteric all the time. Since it's very unlikely that anybody important will be reading me but not my sources, I can opine without fear of ever blowing anybody's cover.

    …or maybe you were kidding and I missed the irony.

  3. I'm not sure that I'd agree that blogging on a site that's on the Volokh Conspiracy's blogroll is a safe way to stay "pretty obscure". And the all seeing Eye of google can only be averted by robot.txt, mere obscurity is no defense.

  4. There's a story on some of the blogs that Al Franken got stuck into Axelrod at the meeting over the lack of leadership from the White House on Health Care. He kept saying "Is the President going to lead?" … Axelrod by all accounts did not have a ready answer.

    Seems to contradict this story. As an aside, Franken is asking what every Democrat is asking. He is turning out to be a first-class public representative.

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