In a wide-ranging, televised discussion about the many months of American debate over health reform, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi chided Democrats for pitching the “fallacy” that somehow a public health care option was simply out of reach.
His sharpest criticisms were saved for President Obama, who Taibbi chastised for not resorting to bare-knuckle negotiating in the public’s good.
“I mean, he could’ve taken Joe Lieberman back there and said, look, if Connecticut ever wants a dime of highway money again, you’re going to have to play ball on this thing,” he said during a Friday appearance on Bill Moyers Journal. “That’s what the president does. I mean, the president has an enormous amount of power. The leaders, the majority leaders have an enormous amount of power. And if they want to pass something, they can do it. And especially when there’s a tremendous public mandate to get something like this passed. I just- the idea that they couldn’t do this was- is a fallacy.”
Taibbi was appearing on the show with Robert Kuttner, editor of progressive magazine The American Prospect.
“It’s absolutely a political winner for the president to hit Wall Street very hard and do all the things that he’s supposed to be doing right now,” Taibbi continued. “You know, that all the things that FDR did. If he did those things, if he remade Wall Street in the way that it needs to be remade, he would do nothing but gain popularity. And I think that’s the strategy he should have pursued.”
Moyers asked: And if President Obama wants more to pilot the establishment than change it?
“Then he runs the risk of being a failed president,” Kuttner replied. “And I do have the audacity to hope that he’s a smart enough, principled enough guy, that some time in his second year in office, he’s going to realize that he’s at a crossroads.”