Obama Is Trying Too Hard to Make Health-Care Reform Look Perfect

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Photo: Getty Images

Dear President Obama,

We know that the final health-care-reform legislation, whatever it turns out looking like after the Senate and House iron out their discrepancies (probably something very close to the Senate's version), is not the bill you would have concocted in an ideal world in which there were no Joe Liebermans or Ben Nelsons. We know that the political realities of Congress have made this bill tamer and more incremental than you would have liked. And it's okay for you to admit that to us. What's odd is when your defense of the bill includes statements like, "I didn't campaign on the public option."

The Internet is currently debating the veracity of that statement: On the one hand, the public option certainly wasn't one of the main planks of your presidential campaign; on the other, it was, undeniably, a part of your proposed health-care plan, and a program you would have preferred to see enacted. It all comes down to figuring out the true definition of "campaign on," a less-than-exhilarating exercise in which we'll politely decline to engage. Obviously, you're just trying to convince Americans, especially liberals, that they shouldn't be disappointed in the health-care-reform bill. But winning this argument, Obama, is like winning an argument with your wife — which is to say, you don't benefit even in victory. Sure, maybe you can convince her that you never technically promised her that necklace — but she still wishes you got it for her. Pointing out how consistent you've been may make you feel better, but it won't make her want the necklace any less.

Obama: Get me rewrite! [Conscience of a Liberal/NYT]
Did Obama Campaign On The Public Option? Yes But Not Entirely [HuffPo]
Obama's Public Option Claim Sparks Liberal Backlash [Atlantic]
Obama: "I didn't campaign on the public option" [War Room/Salon]
Yes, Obama did campaign on the public option [Ezra Klein/WP]