What to learn from how hard the slog has been to enact meaningful health care reform? In the beginning the White House assumed that all parties would can the theatrics and act like adults. It invited Big Pharma and the insurance cartel to the White House assuming that public shame would corral their most aggressive resistance. It wasn't a bad plan, especially for Democrats who historically have aligned themselves more with the populace than the power brokers. As soon as a Democrat mentions "health care reform" the opposition will certainly start shouting, "socialized medicine" (whatever that means), so including corporate interests from the beginning should have provided some cover.
It might have worked... if we all acted like adults and told the truth.
Politics, however, is still a theatrical, creative art. Feelings and mood count for more than logic. What is clear to everyone right now is that Obama's adult, solicitous attitude was rewarded with treachery. The health care cartel and the banks that we bailed out have both rewarded us by stabbing us in the back.
The GOP has brilliantly filled the void left by the Obama administration tacking to corporate interests by rebranding itself the maverick party of the people. It worked once for Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America and it's the GOP's best hope for it working again.
How to fight it?
The administration needs to remember that it leads the biggest, most surprising and successful popular movement in recent history. Don't tack right or left, what does that mean anymore anyway? The Independents that Democrats will need at the midterm don't see themselves as either Left or Right.
The battle is between the powerful few and the angry many.
And the next battle is over the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
To reenergize the angry many that elected him and to neuter GOP attempts to woo them, Obama needs to publicly bar representatives of the powerful few from the White House until they agree, concretely, to better serve the angry many. No more ceremonies in the Rose Garden. No more summits.
Then, with as much pomp as was accorded the major health care players and the bank CEOs the president should invite twenty regular Americans who were lied to by shady mortgage brokers and other financial service charlatans to the White House. He should listen to them, in his house, and then pledge in front of them that he will not allow the CFPA to be watered down.
The White House loves to appear evenhanded and in general that's a rare and positive attribute. If your opponents know that about you beforehand, however, and if they are unscrupulous, they can outmaneuver you. Sometimes you have to call a villain a villain. The White House realizes that Fox News is not the only entity out there wishing this administration to fail.