Suppose President Obama and his aides had decided to take on the worst offender among the big insurance companies this fall.
Suppose the White House had highlighted the failure of the company to provide quality care, the abuses in which it has engaged and the behind-the-scenes campaigning by a self-interested corporation to influence the health-care debate in a manner that helps it while harming Americans.
Suppose presidential aides highlighted the initiative in broadcast and cable interviews and reinforced the message with carefully crafted talking points that said the insurance company’s top officers were not helping Americans to get medical care but rather engaging in self-interested profiteering.
Suppose activist groups such as MoveOn.org leapt in to help advance the cause by urging Democratic members of Congress to denounce and boycott the insurance company and its products.
There would, undoubtedly, be complaints from those who make it their business to defend the indefensible.
But there would, as well, be cheering from Americans who would finally have a sense that the Obama administration was ready to fight as hard as was necessary to change a system that leaves tens of millions of Americans without the insurance they need and tens of millions more with inadequate insurance.
And the administration would not have to peddle a scheme that allows states to opt out of reform — by rejecting the option — as some kind of victory for what was supposed to be national health care.
By any measure, time spent assaulting the worst of the insurance companies would be well spent.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not chosen to wage a fight that might matter.
Rather, the president’s aides continue to wrangle with Fox News, griping about the network’s Republican-friendly reporting and commentary. MoveOn is urging members of Congress to join in the charade. And Obama himself is getting dragged into the discussion, telling NBC that: “I think what our advisers have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes. And if media is operating basically as a talk radio format then that’s one thing, and if it’s operating as a news outlet that’s another but it’s not something I’m losing sleep over.”
Obama should be “losing sleep” over the fact that he is engaged in this absurd diversion of resources and attention from the real fights his administration ought to be engaged in.