In light of today’s news, it’s worth revisiting a post about Obama’s supposed powerlessness over Congress by Matt Yglesias.
I think there’s something perverse in the very strong desire I see among liberals to make problems in congress be about anything other than congress. It’s just not in the power of Barack Obama to make the senate anything other than what it is. […] These are men and women who have amassed a great deal of power, and who ultimately need to decide on a daily basis what it is they want to do with that power. If they choose to use it for bad ends, then blame them for that, not Obama or his team’s alleged lack of familiarity with the United States Senate.
President Barack Obama hasn’t reached out to lobby Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) on healthcare, the senator said Wednesday.
“I made it pretty clear that I didn’t support reconciliation,” Lincoln said during an appearance on MSNBC, by way of offering a reason as to why the president would let her be. “I think he hates asking people to do things contrary to what their gut tells them to do.“
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a fierce critic of the health care reform bill from the Democrats’ left, relented Wednesday and said he would vote for it.
The Ohio Democrat’s decision brings House Speaker Nancy Pelosi one member closer to the 216 votes she needs to pass reform.
But Kucinich is not doing it gladly, and his capitulation comes only after intense pressure from Pelosi and President Obama, who traveled to Ohio with Kucinich earlier this week.
The strong-arming of Kucinich makes Yglesias look more than a little silly today. But the idea that the president is simply an impotent bystander in the face of the awesome powers of the United States Congress was always an absurd position — especially in light of the ample evidence that Obama White House gleefully puts the screws to liberals.
So Blanche Lincoln can threaten to filibuster her own party’s bill, and she doesn’t get so much as a phone call.
But Dennis Kucinich, on the other hand, stands up for a key principle of health care reform that the president campaigned on — and gets a personal visit from Air Force One.