Washington Post columnist David Broder has made a career out of advocating a certain type of corporate centrism–earning him the honorary (?) title of the Dean of the D.C. Press Corps. The formula is pretty simple: Argue that Democratic politicians should move to the right. So with healthcare reform a major issue, Broder’s formula is easy: Barack Obama should reject his party’s support for a “public option” government plan that would compete against private insurance companies.
Why should Obama do this? Well, according to Broder, the appealing thing is that some lawmakers–mostly Republicans, though he mentions Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Utah Republican Bob Bennett–are against setting up a public plan. Hence, advocating one isn’t very “bipartisan.” And therefore there is virtue in tossing the public option overboard:
The time may come–either before or after the House votes on its bill–when Obama may have to demonstrate his flexibility on the issue of a government-run option. Wyden and Bennett are potential allies if he removes what Bennett calls “the rock” blocking a bipartisan bill. And the president couldn’t wish for better partners.
This is virtually the same thing Broder always advises: “flexibility,” meaning giving up on something Democrats support. And what they would give up is an idea that seemingly has widespread public support– as does a single-payer plan, but the David Broders of the world can’t be bothered to take that seriously. (Broder’s Post colleague Dana Milbank lampooned single-payer activists elsewhere in the same day’s paper.) What’s important to Broder is what’s always been important– for Democrats to be more like Republicans, or at least tailor policy to their liking. The columns write themselves.