Friday, August 21, 2009

Paul Krugman's Right

The past week or two - especially the past week - I've been only slightly interested in politics. The turning point, I think, was a one-two punch. First, they took out the end-of-life counseling in the Senate bill (giving in to the "death panel" baloney). Then, they waved the "no public option" flag, which means that people still will be without health care - or at least effective health care. I would know more if I were paying closer attention. But those two bits of information, coming one day after the other, just has me skimming headlines and hoping someone out there knows what they're doing. I sure don't.

So this a.m., I read a column by economist Paul Krugman entitled "Obama's Trust Problem." In it, Krugman explains how people who voted for Obama are disillusioned with many of his choices. The choice to back big bankers and bonuses, for instance. Or the choice to back away on these extremely important health care reform points. Or the choice to embrace Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) even after he joined the "death panel" scare by saying that people should be scared and that he wouldn't agree to something that would kill grandma.

And Krugman's right. I'm not one to be blinded by ideology. When I campaigned for Obama, I said he would work to find middle ground, even if he didn't need to, because he believes in buy-in by everyone (or as many people as possible).

But there's compromise and there's selling out. As Krugman put it, "There’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line." Or, as I read recently from blogger Matt Taibbi:

I’ll say this for George Bush: you’d never have caught him frantically negotiating against himself to take the meat out of a signature legislative initiative just because his approval ratings had a bad summer. Can you imagine Bush and Karl Rove allowing themselves to be paraded through Washington on a leash by some dimwit Republican Senator of a state with six people in it the way the Obama White House this summer is allowing Max Baucus (favorite son of the mighty state of Montana) to frog-march them to a one-term presidency?

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