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Presidential Leadership and ObamaCare

by | Mar 28, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)

With public opinion clearly opposed to ObamaCare and the possibility that the Supreme Court will declare some or all of the law unconstitutional, the Obama Administration and its defenders are adhering to the old adage that the best defense is a good offenses. That offensive takes many forms. We’ll talk about just two here.

One example of taking the offensive is to insist that resistance will melt away. Thus “warning” to the Republican presidential candidates that they will rue the day they opposed the Affordable Care Act. Appearing on Fox News Sunday  Senior White House adviser David Plouffe said not only is the White House “confident” the Supreme Court will uphold the law, but that ultimately, Republicans are going to regret having branded it “Obamacare.” The public will someday love the law; he mentioned the end of the decade in passing.

The other is to try to pre-exempt the impact on President Obama’s re-election prospects by insisting that it was/is his finest hour. The plan is to paint his decision to go all-in on ObamaCare as a noble experiment in Leadership, not an attempt to take control of 1/6th of the entire economy and in the process stuff it with provisions that will make abortion-covering health insurance, subsidized by the federal government, commonly available in the United States, and violate rights of conscience.

Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader  and Obama’s initial nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, took that approach, writing yesterday in the Washington Post’s “On Leadership” section. The objective is front and center: “In defense of President Obama’s leadership on health-care reform” is the headline.

So how do you find a way to congratulate Obama’s leadership style when not a single Republican voted for the package and the public remains adamantly opposed?

Good leadership, Daschle (properly) says, includes finding common ground. According to Daschle, Obama was a paragon of this “hands across the water” approach to the Republicans (not true, even slightly) but was “spurned in his efforts.”

Not to worry. Obama’s “response exemplifies the next quality of leadership: resolve.”

Daschle tells us that Obama mirrored the steely resolve of Winston Churchill who once advised a group to “never, never give up.”

Actually, the full quote reads as follows:

“Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Remember that Obama came in office with Democrats in control of both Houses of Congress and with the support of a press corps that was clearly in love with him. In the face of those enormous odds, Republicans stood tall. Clearly it was the Republicans who best exemplified resolve.

Finally, the ultimate test of leadership, Daschle concludes, is getting results. Well, we’ll see on that one, won’t we? And while we don’t know what the results will be for ObamaCare (or whether there will even be an ObamaCare), we do know that had the President genuinely sought compromise and genuinely kept the bill abortion-neutral, the picture today would be vastly different.

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Categories: ObamaCare