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   Questions of competence begin to dog Obama

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News Date

8/20/2009 4:00 am

Author

Chris Stirewalt

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Analysis

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Entered 8/25/2009, Updated 8/25/2009

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"President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats are again in an uproar over health care. Liberals say they'll blockade any bill that doesn't include a government-run insurance program. And labor says it will sit out the 2010 elections if the president doesn't come across with a stout public plan. Meanwhile, the moderate Democrats who were wooed for weeks by the administration are sidling toward the door, saying that the best thing would be just to start over. Many at the White House no doubt wish they could take that advice. It's been 177 days since Obama made his initial pitch for a health care overhaul to a joint session of Congress. That the president's team is still spending so much time stroking the Democratic base is evidence of how dire the situation is for this young administration. Two decisions on health care have rattled Democrats. First, the president chose to not sell his own plan but instead tried to get Congress to rush something through before lawmakers -- and the public -- fully understood what was in the bill. Second, the administration attempted an ungainly flip-flop on the issue of government-run insurance. Many Democrats think that the stars were aligned for health care but increasingly see the administration as having squandered the moment. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a beating Tuesday for an outright evasion on whether Obama has changed his position on the public option. Down the hall, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel snarled to the New York Times that the White House is finally done with bipartisanship ... again. Democrats can't be blamed for wondering if these guys know what they're doing. It doesn't help with liberals that Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan, sticking with Wall Street on bailouts, and going slow on social issues. But Democrats are really alarmed because they have lost faith in the political powers of the president and his team. Competency trumps ideology almost every time."


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