Obama giving health care critics upper handSubmitted by LadyHawke on Fri, 08/14/2009 - 11:34
A president famous for his campaign skills has let the opposition define the debate on health care reform, the central issue of his party and his presidency.
As Democrats faced raucous town halls across the nation this week, President Obama labored to squelch doubts about draft health legislation rather than tout its virtues.
He must turn the debate around by next month, when Congress returns to Washington, many analysts say, or repeat the fate of the last Democratic president who tried to reform health care 16 years ago.
"Obama has lost control of the debate, and when that happens, it's over," said health care consultant Robert Laszewski. "The well's been poisoned."
Few issues are riper for fearmongering than health care. Overconfident Democrats, focused more on covering the uninsured than reassuring those who have coverage, may have moved too far too fast, given growing public skepticism about industry bailouts, a costly fiscal stimulus and ballooning federal debt.
Trying to avoid the mistakes of former President Bill Clinton, Obama left the bill-writing to Congress, where Democratic divisions, scant GOP support and sharp criticism by the Congressional Budget Office and other neutral experts left Obama without political cover when attacks from the right began.
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