Go big or go home

Reading today's Paul Krugman: "On one side there’s Barack the Policy Wonk, whose command of the issues — and ability to explain those issues in plain English — is a joy to behold.

But on the other side there’s Barack the Post-Partisan, who searches for common ground where none exists, and whose negotiations with himself lead to policies that are far too weak...

"...when asked whether the public option was non-negotiable he waffled, declaring that there are no “lines in the sand.” That evening, Rahm Emanuel met with Democratic senators and told them — well, it’s not clear what he said. Initial reports had him declaring willingness to abandon the public option, but Senator Kent Conrad’s staff later denied that. Still, the impression everyone got was of a White House all too eager to make concessions...

At the beginning of this year, you may remember, Mr. Obama made an eloquent case for a strong economic stimulus — then delivered a proposal falling well short of what independent analysts (and, I suspect, his own economists) considered necessary. The goal, presumably, was to attract bipartisan support. But in the event, Mr. Obama was able to pick up only three Senate Republicans by making a plan that was already too weak even weaker...

You might think that half a loaf is always better than none — but it isn’t if the failure of half-measures ends up discrediting your whole policy approach... It would be a crushing blow to progressive hopes if Mr. Obama doesn’t succeed in getting some form of universal care through Congress. But even so, reform isn’t worth having if you can only get it on terms so compromised that it’s doomed to fail...

Yes, the perfect is the enemy of the good; but so is the not-good-enough-to-work. Health reform has to be done right."

This is how those on the far left and right -- the "activists" -- view the folks in the middle who are trying to hammer out agreements -- the "compromisers." Kurgman's all-in approach... go big or go home... was exactly the approach taken by the last administration, just from the opposing perspective. Which resulted in Iraq, yes, but also the abject failure of Social Security reform.

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