Three is just not just the number of graces, fates and gorgons-- for the Obama Administration there were three major pieces of legislation they had in mind that would radically change America. The first of these was government health care, an approach that would not only eventually lock in all Americans deeper into the government's cradle to grave programs, but would also make it virtually impossible to reduce government spending, while providing carte blanche for just about any mandatory public health program to be implemented.
Government Health Care went first, because it seemed like the potentially most popular and least enraging of the three. Democratic lawmakers seriously thought that it would be a breeze and that its popularity would serve to deter Republican opposition. And having achieved a decisive legislative victory on those grounds, Obama and the left would have intimidated any potential opposition when it came to taking on the next two items on the agenda.
Additionally government health care was supposed to prepare the ground for Cap and Trade and Immigration, by buying public trust for the former and creating an incentive for immigrants in the latter scenario. But as is so often the case with politicians and their ambitions, the Democrats were tripped up by the very situation that they had leveraged to seize power. The economy.
By pushing health care as their number one priority, the Democrats were very clearly ignoring the number one concern of the public-- the economy. And selling an expensive health care boondoggle was going to be much more of a challenge at a time when people were being much more budget conscious, both in their budgets which would be strained by such provisions as mandatory health insurance, and the national budget, which was already unworkable to most people. But if government health care couldn't be sold in tough economic times, Cap and Trade which would kill uncounted numbers of jobs, and immigration, which would wreck an already tight job market, certainly couldn't be sold.
And that is why Obama refuses to back down from his big health care push. It isn't simply Rahm Emanuel's borrowed testosterone at work, though obviously the collapse of health care would be a severe blow to his credibility. But if Obama folds on health care, he folds on everything. Where Bill Clinton could deftly retreat from an unpopular program and do whatever he had to do to stay in office, Obama is a manufactured candidate, elevated for a specific purpose. He has never fought his own battles. His agenda is being set by the people who got him this far, and they didn't get him this far just to keep him in office. They did it to radically change America.
Where Bill Clinton was a sleazy politician always looking out for himself, Obama is an ideological figurehead for a team effort whose overall price tag is likely to be in the billions. And those billions were not invested in the man, but in the idea. Hope and Change. A dramatic recreation of America that tosses out the old ways and transforms the country into another declining European socialist hive state that the likes of Soros can rob and that Muslim immigrants can turn into a charnel house.
So the only way is to push ahead. For the Obamanites, health care has become not a Waterloo, but a Stalingrad, and they are determined to break through, one way or another. They may be starving and running low on ammo, but they have no choice but to win, because there is no going back. If Rahm Emanuel is trying to position himself as the voice of reason, while looking for a way to transition to a safe Illinois Senate seat, it's because he sees himself surrounded by compulsive ideologues... and like his old boss Bill, Rahm is only out for himself. He has no interest in killing his career for the cause.
Meanwhile his current boss, Barry, has led too charmed a political life to understand that he can lose. Because he has never been allowed to lose. He's the kid whose parents never let him play kickball and whose home runs were all scored for him. He's overflowing with self-esteem but while he poses with the ball, he has no idea what to do when things aren't going his way. His reaction to any setback is to launch a political hate campaign, deliver a speech or schedule a conference. He has no conception of other people as independent entities, and so is incapable of listening to them. All he does is talk over them, talk down to them or try to win a debate with them. All of which make sense with his background, but they aren't how you win the game.
What's even more disastrous is that he's surrounded by people who think just like him, the privileged left wing elite. Golden children who waited for a decade or two for the chance to get into the White House and rewrite all the rules, again without understanding any of them. The sloppy command structure and the poor damage control typical of the White House right now are endemic to most left wing organizations, which are good at offense, but terrible at defense, and while calling for everyone else to be accountable, lack the basic skills to get their own house in order. Even when it's the White House.
The left spent a lot of money putting these Brightest Boys and Girls in the Room into a position where they could implement all their bright ideas. And it never occurred to them that a populist movement could threaten them, that congress would bog them down, or that the people would have anything to say about it. Like most amateur generals, they could only see the endgame, not the hard work in between. And like Obama, they could not see people as individuals, only as counters in a political game between them and the Republicans.
For all the sloppy history fed out of buckets to American students, it was not JFK's vaguely idealistic poses that radically changed America, but the canny LBJ who was a practical politician in a way that JFK was not. But Obama has been much too arrogant to allow an LBJ anywhere near him. Instead he has Joe Biden, who has LBJ's gift of gaffe, but not his political horse sense. Obama wanted someone who would make him look strong and smart, and Biden accomplishes that just by showing up. But politics is a team effort, and most of Obama's team is as out of touch as he is. They can't help him, because they don't even understand the problem.
Health care seemed like a slam dunk to them, because of the ideological logic. They had no ability to relate to its end results. Only to the ideological purity of their aims. And so like the tone deaf ideologues that they were, they treated each setback as a teachable moment, telling the American people repeatedly, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate", without realizing that this very approach was not only condescending, but betrayed their inability to hear what was being said to them.
Yet the Obama Administration, this great Empire of the Out of Touch, is the logical outcome of a political system in which politicians increasingly have to appeal to their patrons, more than to the voters. Obama got as far as he did, to the highest office in the land, without ever once learning how to understand people. And that happened because he got there on fraud, smear campaigns and a whole lot of money backing his cult of personality. More importantly he got there because powerful people were standing behind him all the way up, paving the way for him, clearing away the roadblocks and moving him up the red carpet escalators to the sky. But how do you clear away a roadblock as big as the American Electorate?
So far no one in Obama's Empire of the Out of Touch has found an answer for that.