Cards on the Table; Run for the Exits


There’s a lot of shadow boxing now. But the gist of the articles out today about the White House’s new initiative on the health care front is that the president thinks it’s time to put his cards on the table, say what has to be included and get a bill through Congress. And a public option does not appear to be one of the cards he’s planning on putting on the table.There’s some chatter about whether this new line fully represents the president’s views. But I don’t think that level of tea leaf reading is really worth a lot of time.

The key is that the president (whatever he might want in the abstract) seems to be saying clearly, in a way he has not previously done so, that he’s not willing to fight for a public option. And given how close run a thing it seems to be for a public option in the senate, at best, it’s hard to see how any wavering senator is going to decide that it is worth fighting for if the president isn’t going to fight for it himself.

If the president who is up for reelection in 2012 is not ready to fight for a public option, is anyone who’s up for election in 2010 going to do so?

In Blanche Lincoln’s comments yesterday, she ruled out a public option but seemed to hold open the possibility that she would support one that did not receive government subsidies.

I think the big question over the next few days is whether any momentum, for a public option of any sort, can survive in the senate.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of