There's an old saying that you shouldn't ever point the finger at someone, because you'll have three other fingers pointing back at you (not counting the thumb, of course). I thought about that this morning as I considered all of the arguments flying back and forth over who is to blame about the delays in implementing health care reform.
Here's the finger being pointed: "Obama in recent days has shifted directly attacking Republicans, portraying their opposition to his health initiative as little more than a political attack designed to destroy his presidency... In remarks Tuesday, Obama continued to hammer home the theme that his opponents were driven by political motives, but he refrained from mentioning the Republican Party or referring to any specific Senator." - Roll Call, July 22, 2009
And today, here are the fingers pointing back at Democrats:
As the pressure increases to cut deals on health care reform, nerves are starting to fray among Democrats. Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his top legislative aide, Phil Schiliro, traveled to the Capitol on Thursday to try to sort out an impasse between Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven fellow Democrats in the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. But they emerged after three hours in the speaker’s office without a breakthrough.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) conceded that House Democrats had held a “contentious” closed-door session on Thursday morning, the day after Obama increased the pressure on Congress to get something done on health care.
And in the Senate, Democratic Finance Committee members not directly involved in the bipartisan talks warned Baucus that their votes could not be taken for granted as he works toward a deal with Republicans.
“Don’t think we are so desperate. We are not going to fall into line,” Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said, describing the message Democrats delivered to Baucus. “I’m not allowed into the meetings, the real meetings they have, what they call the coalition of the willing. It is a really, really bad way to try and develop support and ideas. So the whole philosophy is, if we can get these three Republicans, we can call it bipartisan, but I don’t think any of you [in the media] are going to think it is particularly bipartisan.” - Politico, July 24, 2009
Why did Obama not name any specific Senator or identify the opponents driven by political motives? Because that would entail identifying members of his own party - the members of the Senate who are opposed to the route this reform legislation is taking, and the 50-plus members of the House Blue Dog coalition who could block any bill that they see increasing taxes on their constituencies.
So I ask Democrats in Congress and the Administration, "Can you tell me who's really to blame here?" Let me state that I am not opposed to all Americans having access to health care; what I am opposed to is trying to jam a massive bill through the process in less than two months between the time the legislation was introduced and the time a final vote is held. What you're seeing here are members that recognize a fix needs to be made - a fix that is affordable and doesn't drive the country even further into a debt that we've succeeded in building up over the past several years - as well as recognizing that this vote could make or break their careers.
Be careful where you point the finger on this issue - and remember that one of the three pointing back at you is the middle one.