Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet blog special: Dem Dartmouth Debate. Report 4. New Obama line of attack on Clinton..

| No Comments

CHICAGO---White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), using a question about health care, injected a new element in going after chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)--that she does not have the personality to pass universal health care. Obama then offers himself as a contrast; someone who can "inspire" people to get things done. He did not use the word consensus but this is what he is talking about.

It's not exactly a major confrontation. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) was much sharper in drawing distinctions and going after Clinton. But it's clear Obama is opening a new front as he appeals to Independents and Republicans to come into the Democratic primary.

After the debate, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe sent out a statement where he talked about Obama as the candidate of consensus. An Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, sent out a research memo recapping the abundance of criticism Clinton received for her failed health care effort in 1993 and 1994. Health care covereage is the dominant domestic issue in the primary.

Here's how Obama bored into Clinton. All the leading Dems have health plans on the table. They are more alike than they are different. Obama said the issue is not who has the plans but "It has to do with who can inspire and mobilize the American people to get it done and open up the process. If it was lonely for Hillary, part of the reason it was lonely, Hillary, was because you closed the door to a lot of potential allies in that process. At that time, 80 percent of Americans already wanted universal health care, but they didn't feel like they were let into the process. "

Plouffe statement....“Tonight, Barack Obama offered a commanding debate performance where he showed that while he may not have the experience Washington likes, he has the experience America needs right now – the ability to bring people together, stand up to the special interests, and tell the truth to the American people on the major issues facing America, from Iraq to Social Security. He’ll approach major challenges like health care reform the same way he’s approached every challenge he’s faced through two decades of public service – with an open, transparent process that brings people of differing views together to build a real consensus for change,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe


==============================================================
Obama campaign reserach memo...

Clinton: It Was “Kind Of Lonely” When I Was Working On Universal Health Care. At the AARP Forum, Clinton said, “Fifteen years ago I was advocating for universal health care. It was kind of lonely back then. I never gave up though, after we weren’t successful.” [AARP Forum, 9/20/07]

CLINTON’S INSISTENCE ON SECRECY DERAILED THE EFFORT

Hillary Threatened To “Demonize” Anyone Who Stood In The Way Of Her Health Care Plan. At a retreat for Senate Democrats, Hillary was asked by Bill Bradley, “whether the Clinton’s failure to meet their promise of submitting health care legislation to Congress in one hundred days… would make it more difficult to win passage… Perhaps some substantive changes might be required in the interest of realism, Bradley suggested. No, Hillary responded icily, there would be no changes because delay or not, the White House would ‘demonize’ members of Congress and the medical establishment who would use the interim to alter the administration’s plan or otherwise stand in its way.” [A Woman In Charge, p. 304]

Ø Bill Bradley And Pat Moynihan Never Forgave Hillary For Treating Them As Enemies. “[Bill] Bradley and [Pat] Moynihan later said they were flabbergasted at Hillary’s words and attitude that afternoon, but each came to believe that the incident was indicative of something more revealing about her character… ‘That was it for me in terms of Hillary Clinton,’ Bradley said many years later. ‘You don’t tell members of the Senate you are going to demonize them. It was obviously so basic to who she is. The arrogance. The assumption that people with questions are enemies. The disdain. The hypocrisy.’ Lawrence O’Donnell explained the depth of Moynihan’s disappointment with the woman who would eventually replace him in the Senate. The senator ‘didn’t hold grudges, didn’t personalize such matters,’ said O’Donnell. ‘But the “demonizing” colored his perception of Hillary, and how she operated, for the rest of his life.’” [A Woman In Charge, p. 304]

Rep. McDermott Compared The Clinton Efforts To The Disastrous Invasion Of Gallipoli In World War I; Said Democrats Feared Having The Rug Pulled Out From Under Them By The Clintons. According to Broder and Johnson, “Clinton’s approach was fundamentally flawed, McDermott thought. The President was trying to achieve universal coverage mainly by controlling costs. That was fine; costs had to be controlled, but the reality of reform was much more complicated. And Clinton was beginning this battle with his forces seriously doubtful and divided. Privately, McDermott thought this effort was doomed. ‘We’re not going to pass anything,’ he said two and a half months before Clinton’s [September 22, 1993] speech… There were many reasons for his pessimism, but he was most concerned about two factors: division and doubts about the Clinton plans – and doubts about Clinton himself – among Democrats. Of even greater concern was the powerful opposition of special interests. ‘Everybody out to go out and see the movie Gallipoli,” McDermott said in his office before Clinton’s speech. ‘Because we are like the colonials in Gallipoli. The British general have sent the Australians and the New Zealanders and Irish and all the rest out there to get themselves chopped up. And they’ve [the Clintons] pulled the rug out from under us on other controversial issues… We’re taking on the medical industrial complex… And they’re sending raggedy-ass troops out there led by officers that nobody’s quite sure we trust.’” [The System, p.45]

Ways and Means Staff Director: Magaziner Was Arrogant, Offered Unrealistic Numbers. David S. Abernathy, staff director of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee said Magaziner “was arrogant enough that basically whatever advice was proffered by anyone who did understand the government or was an expert in health care policy was ignored.” The Magaziner task force, he thought, “wasted an incredible amount of time which he needed desperately. They just screwed us.” Member of Congress were rightly resentful, he said, because “that son-of-a-bitch Magaziner has so boxed us in by making their plan look cheap.” He complained that the savings and cost controls assumed by the administration plan “are beyond anything that nay professional health policy person has ever felt achievable. I have been doing this all my life and I just marveled at the chutzpah of the administration coming out with these numbers.” [The System, p.172]

Rep. McDermott: Ira Magaziner Was “Rasputin-Like.” Rep. Jim McDermott said that Magaziner “has been almost Rasputin-like in the view of most of us. He has kept all the knowledge to himself. He’s the only one who has been at all the meetings. He’s the one who has all the books. He is viewed as having way more power in this situation than he ought to have, if the President were smart.” [The System, p.171]

EVERYONE WANTED TO GET HEALTH CARE REFORM PASSED

The Prospect For Health Care Reform Was The Brightest Ever When The Clintons Began Their Efforts. According to Broder and Johnson, for years Congress “had been debating the issue. Countless hearings had been held. Expert testimony, covering every aspect of the issue, had been taken from every interest involved. Both Democrats and Republicans had formed special task forces. Poll after poll had been commissioned to fathom public attitudes. Legislation had been drafted, introduced, and subjected to intense scrutiny and lobbying. Yet only once did a bill providing universal national coverage ever pass a single congressional committee. Despite this record of repeated failure, the prospect for reform appeared the brightest ever when the Clinton effort began.” [The System, p. 62]

Both Republicans And Democrats Wanted To Address The Health Care Issue; Republicans “Definitely” Wanted A Solution. According to the Boston Globe, during March 1993, Senate Republicans, led by John Chaffee were “furiously working behind the scenes to introduce a rival health overhaul plan based on the same ‘managed competition’ concept the White House espouses.” The Globe speculated that the Republican alternative, which did not seek to impose controversial cost controls, could prove far more attractive to key interest groups, like doctors and hospitals, and to conservative Democrats. "There are two things Republicans can do with health care - work towards a solution or hurl rocks at those who are seeking a solution," Chafee said. "The Republicans we have worked with definitely want a solution." Robert Boorstin, the White House spokesman for health care, said tthat administration officials had been working with the Republicans in the Senate and House "and we are glad to see further evidence that health care reform should happen this year." [Boston Globe, 3/27/93]

DEMOCRATS...

John Dingell Was Determined To Honor His Father’s Legacy By Passing Health Care. Broder and Johnson wrote, “Helping pass this reform would be a crowning point of John Dingell’s congressional career, and a matter of intense family pride. His father, for whom he was named, had also been a congressman from Michigan nad had sat in that same chamber when Franklin Roosevelt proposed Social Security. The senior Dingell became and ardent battler to provide Americans universal coverage. Now the son, after thirty-eight years in Congress, ranking sixth in seniority of all members, was in a position to fulfill that personal legacy. He was determined to do so.” [The System, p. 42]

Jay Rockefeller Saw The Clinton Effort On Health Care As The Culmination Of His Career And The Most Important Social Legislation In American History. Senator Jay Rockefeller, “felt especially involved with the Clintons and their attempt to achieve real reform; he had, in fact, been largely responsible for creating the coalition of pro-reform groups to campaign for passage of the Clinton plan and had opened his mansion in Rock Creek Park […] to them for their first strategy meeting. To Rockefeller, what was finally being launched […] was the most massive, controversial, and important social legislation in American history, one that made, as he said, Social Security look like ‘an add on, de minimus.’ Medicare, which took a decades-long struggle to enact, was another add on, de minimus. Aside from the personal stakes of everyone involved, he believed health care reform to be an issue that represented nothing less than the economic health and future of the United States.” [The System, p. 33]

Ted Kennedy Believed That 1993 Was The Most Favorable Opportunity Of His Career For Passing Health Care Reform. Broder and Johnson reported of Ted Kennedy, “More than any other senator, he was identified with care, and better than anyone in that chamber he knew how strong opposition was… Clinton, he thought w as the first president who really understood the immensely complicated issue, the first who could articulate it publicly. The same was so, he felt, with Hillary Clinton – a ‘superstar,’ he called her privately – with whom he spent hours in conversation through these early presidential months. Like [Jay] Rockefeller, Kennedy believed this was a moment of historic opportunity, the most favorable in all his years in Congress.” [The System, p. 34]

...AND REPUBLICANS

Pat Moynihan And Bob Dole Believed They Would Work Together To Create A Final Health Care Compromise. According to David Broder and Haynes Johnson, In 1993 when the health care battle began, Pat Moynihan and Bob Dole “talked privately about the final outcome and laughingly discussed the timing of ‘the Moynihan-Done bill’ that could emerge in the spring of 1994 as the final compromise between all health care reform version. In his conversations with the President, the First Lady, and other strategists, Moynihan often referred to his dealings with Dole and to his belief that, in the end, they together would produce a bill.” [The System, p.346]

Bob Dole Encouraged Republicans To Compromise With The Clintons. Bob Dole urged Al Gore to tell the President that he wanted to deal, “Al, tell the President not to be so rough on us. When we introduced our bill we didn’t say one word about their health care plan. We’re not trying to sell this as a partisan plan. We’re trying to reach out to Democrats. It’s a good plan.” He told the vice president to inform Clinton that “maybe we could still put something together.” [The System, p. 372]

John Chafee Signed On Almost Half Of GOP Senators For A Phased In Mandate Plan. Before meeting with Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Chaffee has “signed up almost half of the GOP senators, including Bob Dole, for a phased-in universal coverage plan that would require every individual to buy a policy.” According to Broder and Johnson, “Whatever his reservations about the Clinton proposal, and he had many, Chafee believed a major bill would pass the Congress within a year. The odds for passage were about sixty-forty, he thought. It wouldn’t be as sweeping as the Clinton version, and it was likely that the final legislation would more resemble his bill than the Clintons’.” [The System, p. 132]

Sen. Bob Dole: Clinton “Executive Gridlock” Prevented A Compromise Health Care Bill. The Los Angeles Times reported, “‘We believe if we could get rid of executive gridlock -- President and Mrs. Clinton -- if they would come to the table now, we could still get a good bill this year,’ Dole said. Dole referred to Saturday’s vote by the Senate Finance Committee, which approved a bill that had all but eliminated the major components of the Administration’s health care reform package. ‘Employer mandates are dead. Price controls are dead. These big mandatory (purchasing) alliances are dead,’ he said. ‘. . . The American people aren’t ready for a totally government-run system.’ On Saturday, the Finance Committee passed a bill that fell short of Clinton’s goal of guaranteeing health coverage to everyone, instead approving a plan that set a goal of 95% coverage by the year 2002.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/4/94]


Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 26, 2007 9:24 PM.

Sweet blog special: Dem Dartmouth Debate. Report 2. Decoding Dodd. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog special. Dem Dartmouth Debate. Report 3. Clinton, Obama nix national smoking ban. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.