Process vs. Commitment

| Thu Jan. 21, 2010 1:29 PM EST

Jon Chait says the House should pass the Senate bill. The alternative is nothing. Andrew Sullivan argues with him:

So let this process play out. Let Obama use SOTU to argue that nothing is not an option and if the Republicans prove they really do want nothing, then the argument for passing the Senate bill gets stronger. But doing this now, greeting public anxiety with contempt, would be dreadful politics.

It would destroy Obama's commitment to open dialogue and respect for the process, which has already been battered by some of the necessary sausage making to get a final deal. It would make Obama look like a brutally partisan president. That would break Obama's presidency.

This is magical thinking. Obama is already a brutally partisan president. He just doesn't seem to know it. But it only takes one side to make politics into a partisan slugfest, and at this point the only credible response is to slug back. If Obama really believes in healthcare reform, he needs to use every lever he's got to press the House to pass the Senate bill — and then use the SOTU to explain why it happened that way and what the bill does for everyone. If he can't sell it, then he can't sell it. But several more months of "process" sure aren't going to make it any easier. Real resolve and real commitment are all that matter now.

This is it. We either pass it now or else wait another 15 years. It's time for Obama to buck up and show us what he's made of.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.