The White House swiftly organized a blogger conference call on Thursday evening to rally support for health care reform, in a bid to stem fallout from progressives over recent compromises in the Senate. Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod devoted most of the time to taking questions, as bloggers from OpenLeft, Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars and Huffington Post pressed for answers on why recent concessions seemed so one-sided.
MyDD’s Jonathan Singer said he was channeling another blogger, Duncan Black, to ask whether Axelrod’s recent "insane" remark about Howard Dean’s position also applied to Ben Nelson’s willingness to scuttle the entire bill. "I’m not professionally qualified to judge insanity and maybe I should have used a different word," Axelrod said, and he noted that "everybody’s a little on edge at this point" in the long legislative battle. He also stressed his respect for allies in the "progressive community," but reiterated his view that it would be "wrongheaded" to squash all of health care reform at this point, which is "infinitely better" than the status quo.
Asked about a dip in polling by Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney, Axelrod reiterated his argument that the White House was focused on legislative progress, not polling or approval ratings. "We’re not here to husband our poll numbers like a trophy on a shelf," he responded, and essentially rebuffed the argument that White House compromising has reduced enthusiasm and support from Obama’s base.