A somber President Obama, in the days following the Scott Brown victory here in Massachusetts, appeared to be a leader coming to the stark realization that he ought to revise his approach… or run the risk of alienating more and more Americans frustrated with incumbents of both political parties. He appeared pensive, shaken, humbled. And pundits pondered whether a principled president would emerge to press on regardless of the political consequences… or whether a pragmatic leader would rise up, in Clintonesque fashion, like a phoenix from the flames to fight one more day.
We’ve learned over the past few days that this particular president appears to be more the former than the latter case in point. He has released his own proposal (a mildly warmed over Senate version of the no-public option plan) and has indicated that parliamentary procedures could allow him and the Democrats to prevail by not requiring any Republican votes. Scott Brown be damned.
On Thursday, there will be a televised debate (probably not free form) on health care reform and Republican strategists are, I’m sure, wondering whether to play helpless victim to a wild-eyed president and government gone sadly wrong… or to go down fighting and pretend it all really matters (even though they most likely can’t avoid the parliamentary entanglements). The real question is: which will play better during the Fall, leading up to the November elections. The Democrats have taken a position, boldly so, and we’ll know tomorrow just how the opposition party decides to play it. I predict they will go down fighting. And that it will be good television.