So here an exchange between Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner:
"Bill Moyers: So explain this to the visitor from Mars. I mean, just this week, the Washington Post and ABC News had a poll showing that the American people supports the Medicare-buy-in that...
R. Kuttner: Right
BM: By a margin of some 30 points....
BM: And yet, it went down like lead balloon...
RK: Look, there are two ways, if you're the President of the US sizing up a situation like this, that you can try and create reform. One is to say, well, the interest groups are so powerful that the only thing I can do is I can work with them and move the ball a few yards, get some incremental reform, hope it turns into something better. The other way you can do it is to try to rally the people against the special interests and play on the fact that the insurance industry, the drug industry, are not going to win any popularity contests with the American people. And you, as the president, be the champion of the people against the special interests. That's the course that Obama's chosen not to pursue."
At least a couple of comments. First: Kuttner assumes, without argument, that Obama and Co. wanted real reform. There is little evidence now that this is the case. Obama has continued Bush's policy regarding education with a new, even more offensive name, "The Race to the Top," has continued Bush's policies in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. So Kuttner's assumption is unsupported by any evidence. And, of course, this is the same assumption others have made consistently about our politicians from FDR to the present, that they want reform, real reform, reform that would follow rather than sidetrack the wishes of the people.
Second: Kuttner assumes that the goal is to move reform forward, like football teams do, a bit of yardage at a time. But this is, again, an assumption for which there is little evidence. The alternative is that, for the most part and for as long as possible, politicians in both parties are not trying to move the ball forward but are trying to preserve the status quo and, therewith, preserve their perks and privileges. As almost anyone can see, the analogy to a football game is just inaccurate. Our politicians almost never "score." Gee, I wonder why? Even bad teams score in football.
Third: Note the implication that the "special interests" are so strong that even the president cannot take them on, even when he has the people behind him. Boy, what bunk! So let me get this straight: With the people, in large majorities on his side, the president cannot call out the drug corporations or the insurance corporations! Why? Because these corporations are so popular with the people? Even Kuttner, an apologist for Obama, knows this isn't true. Take note of this exchange:
"BM: Matt, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a very progressive member of Congress who's been at this table wanted a public option. He says this health care bill appears to be the legislation that the president wanted in the first place.
Matt Taibbi: Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. Yeah, it's quite obvious that at the outset of this process, the White House didn't want, for instance single payer even on the table, you know, when Max Baucus had his initial discussions in committee on this bill, he invited something like 43 people to give their ideas....And he didn't invite a single person from - who was an advocate of single payer health care. So that was never on the table...."
Of course Feingold's argument makes sense. Obama is no fool and he knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. Why do you think August happened with the health care forums and the alleged "crazies" were given so much face time? Ah yes, to create the impression that the Congress and the president were limited in what they could do, were limited to doing what would preserve their power and that of the drug and insurance corporations. Any other explanation is just unpersuasive at this point. Our political process is all "smoke and mirrors." As Yogi liked to say or was alleged to have said; "You can see a lot just by looking." One doesn't need any fancy theory to understand American politics. We only have to understand that it is "politics," and, of course, the goal of almost any politician is to get and keep power and that means preserving the status quo as much as possible. Obama is no different than Bush, than Clinton, than Papa Bush, than Reagan, than Carter, than Ford, than Nixon, than LBJ, etc., etc., etc. Just look around and see what happens and you can understand American politics.