Obama’s Leadership Style
In the comments on my Obama’s New Health Strategy: Leadership post, Michael Reynolds makes a salient point about President Obama’s leadership style: “He operates like a community organizer: let people have their say, let them wear themselves out, then step in and define the consensus.”
I think that’s fundamentally correct. I’ve long marveled at Obama’s ability to frame issues in such a way that people not predisposed to dislike him can come away thinking that he agrees with them. I always attributed that to remarkable political skill and self-discipline but it may well be more than that: a core approach to getting things done. Whether that can work at the presidential level remains to be seen but it’s a fascinating approach.
With regard to the health care debate:
The key is to move health care from “privilege” to “right.” That done, we will figure out how to pay for it. We’ll have to find the cost-cutting, and we’ll no doubt raise taxes. Just as we’ve done to finance Medicare thus far.
I think for better or worse Obama is a gradualist. This is a surprise to those on Left and Right who projected their own hopes and fears onto him. But he is a fundamentally moderate man, cautious and incrementalist.
It’s possible that Obama doesn’t much care what the final outcome of the debate is, so long as 1) it incrementally moves us closer toward establishing medical treatment as a “right” and 2) he gets credit for it.
Michael’s also right that Obama fully understands that all the talk about cost reduction is a distraction. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, the tax burden of the middle class will go up to pay for any expansion of the program. The problem, though, is that it’s just not sustainable given the projected growth in medical costs.