President Obama's strategy of letting the various forces in the Congress fight out their differences and arrive at a health care bill he can sign onto is beginning to look like a failure. His dogged insistence on "bipartisanship", and his unwillingness to come out in favor of a strong bill that his allies can count on his support to defend is ceding the ground to the insurance industry and its Republican (and all too often, Democratic) shills in Congress.
And today we see confirmation of the rumors that both parties have been denying for a week, that the White House cut a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to secure its neutrality in the health care fight, effectively giving away the store in advance of the legislation by preventing the negotiation over drug prices that any reform with even a reasonable chance of controlling costs must enable.
In this respect, his stewardship of the health care fight is beginning to look like the deals he cut with the thieves on Wall Street and in the big banks to right the nation's capsized economic ship, deals that have left those executives sitting pretty while the taxpayer gets to foot a staggering bill for their greed and incompetence and the broader economy is still teetering on the brink of depression.
Add this to the continuing disappointment that Obama's supporters have suffered over his lack of clarity about a host of civil rights issues, from closing Guantanamo and stopping unconstitutional surveillance of Americans to ending "don't ask, don't tell", and you have a picture that looks increasingly ugly for those progressives who turned out in droves to provide the help Obama needed to get elected, and also to provide the supermajorities that Democrats enjoy on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
Drew Westen has a post up on Huffington Post about the air that's escaping from Obama's balloon, and speculating about whether that deflation is due to a too-clever-by-half attempt to let his opponents shadow-box themselves into exhaustion, a far less progressive set of beliefs than his progressive supporters originally thought, or a simple lack of spine.
The last line in that piece sums it (and the sense of disappointment that animates it) up very nicely: