I'm also sympathetic to Paul Krugman, who is rapidly approaching Sullivan-esque levels of obsession, if not derangement, with his anti-Obama posts. The root of this is not because Krugman thinks Obama is the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, but because health care is Krugman's red line issue, as he wrote yesterday:
I believe that universal health care has to be THE central item in a progressive agenda — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because of its political economy implications. As I explain in Conscience of a Liberal, Republicans went all-out in 1993 to block health reform because they feared that success would reinvigorate the progressive agenda. And they were right.To me, this is a silly issue to draw a red line on, frankly. The American poor have had 40+ million uninsured citizens for quite some time, including much of the time that Sen. Clinton was first lady -- the time she claims she was learning valuable things as co-President or something. The US has gotten used to this stain on the nation, and they don't particularly care much anymore. More than that, both Democratic proposals are so confounded that I simply cannot believe that even if they succeeded totally and immediately before Feburary 1, 2009, the American electorate would pave the street with rose petals for the Democrats. The proposals on the table aren't game-changing programs like social security, or medicare -- they aren't even Amtrak. Good health care proposals could absolutely, I think, rebuild the Democratic majority. But neither candidate has brought something like that forward.
Meanwhile, to coin a phrase, don't you know there's a war on? A war which, aside from costing thousands of US lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, was conceived in deceit, nurtured with lies, and midwifed by stone cold killers. That, unsurprisingly, is my red line issue. Hillary was, is, and will be on the wrong side of that issue for the foreseeable future, if her performance at the latest State of the Union is any indication. This is really as simple as it gets. Paul Krugman wants health care, fine: where's the money going to come from if we keep throwing money in the fire of burning MRAPs? Hillary's supporters say she's only "running" as the hawk candidate because, as a woman, she has to. But play that out -- she needs to win the general election, too, meaning that she'll have to out-hawk McCain. (If possible!) Then she'll need to run for re-election, so she'll actually have to be a hawk President, if she wins. Then her VP will need to win, too, so the hawkiness continues.
Or, you can choose not to play the game at all -- repudiate this war, and all wars of aggression. As Ackerman says:
Obama is the only candidate the marry strength and justice and wisdom. His foreign policy starts with ending the most disastrous national-security mistake in recent American history; and then it proceeds to undo its deep-seated ideological foundations. When faced with that prospect, especially from the most electable candidate in the race, nothing else will do.I agree with Krugman's arguments that Obama has actually undermined the case for some needed reforms, and I wish he hadn't. But there are some issues bigger than health care, and the war is one if there ever was. If it ends, progress on health care, the environment, the economy all becomes possible. Keep it going, or start new ones, and we'll be stuck where we are, forever.