The Corner

What Moderation?

What’s so striking about Obama’s health-care gambit is how immoderate it is in every way. On the substance, he is pushing for the left-most plausible plan. Some of his apologists will say he’s a centrist because he dropped the public option, but he gave up on it only because it didn’t have the votes (seems almost quaint, doesn’t it?). And the reason Obama is doing everything he can to avoid going back to the Senate under the regular rules is that he doesn’t want to compromise an inch of the current left-most plausible plan with moderate Republicans. On top of the substance, there’s the immoderate, Dostoevsky-worthy political gamble Obama is making — it’s bold verging on reckless. He is staking his presidency (at least in the near term) on the outcome in the House with no guarantee that he can get the votes. He may well get them at the end of the day, but this is extraordinary risk-taking. And why is he doing this? Presumably because he’s a true believer, with a passionate conviction that a semi-nationalization of health care is worth it — downside consequences be damned. All of this runs exactly counter to the image of Obama as a moderate, coolly calculating man of nuance. We can believe that, or the evidence before our eyes in the health-care debate every day.

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