Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kirk to Obama-prize

In Star Trek lore, there's a Starfleet exercise known as the Kobayashi Maru. What this exercise teaches cadets is that there are sometimes no-win situations and that good Captains make the best of a bad situation.

Right now, President Obama is seeing a Kobayashi Maru right before his eyes with the health care debate. Democrats are urging the President to ignore the Republicans and get a health care reform bill passed. Republicans don't have the votes to stop any reform bill by themselves, but they've been buoyed by moderate and conservative Democrats who are not sold on the reform notion just yet.

Obama, to his credit, has said he wanted a bipartisan bill. Obama, to his discredit, has not followed through on his call for bipartisanship, if Republican Representative John Boehner can be believed.

Even some Leftists are not happy with Obama, stating that if the health care reform bill doesn't include a public option, they won't vote for it. Yet, one of the reasons there isn't bipartisan support for health care reform right now is the public option.

This puts Obama in a no-win situation. If he doesn't include the public option and tries to be more bipartisan, House Democrats may not vote for the reform bill, killing it in the House. Given the amount of time, energy, and press time devoted to the reform effort, the failure of any reform bill in the House would hamstring Obama's Presidency and put him on the fast track to being a lame duck President.

On the other hand, if Obama pushes for the reform bill to be passed without Republican support, it may pass Congress and be signed into law. Although this looks like a victory for Obama, it's really not. Without Republican support, any reform fiasco becomes the Democrats' fault. You can't keep referring to "the party of no" as the reason things didn't turn out so well because they didn't have anything to do with the bill being passed. Given how Obama and those who support health care reform have made the issue into an urgent cause, any delay in implementing the reform bill will not please the people. Of course, this is the federal government we're talking about here! They're fast as lightning, aren't they?

Whether it's the clowns to the left of him or the jokers to the right, Obama finds himself stuck in the middle of a no-win situation. Unlike James T. Kirk, however, Obama can't cheat his way out of it. It's his baby to deal with, and nobody else's.

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