The drama over the August break was largely predictable and for the most part has burnt itself out. The death of Ted Kennedy disrupted the news feed and it’s only in the last 24 hours that the talking heads have managed to refocus on the downside to throwing grandma off the train (or a Republican if that’s your preferred option).
In the meantime an article over on Politico has some interesting snippets of information. David Axelrod said in a telephone interview earlier today in response to questions about the healthcare reform agenda:
“We’re entering a new season, it’s time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done. We’re confident that we can do that. But obviously it is a different phase. We’re going to approach it in a different way. The president is going to be very active.”
Politico goes on to suggest …
Obama’s specifics will include many of the principles he has spelled out before, and aides did not want to telegraph make-or-break demands. But Axelrod and others are making plain that Obama will assert himself more aggressively — a clear sign that the president will start dictating terms to Congress.
Thing is, an environment has been created wherein the public and standing members of the Senate have been calling for Obama to step up to the plate – to take the lead. It is difficult at this stage of the game to accuse Obama of ramming his own agenda down the throat of a hostile Senate. One could argue that this is the set piece in the game-set-match scenario. In support of this proposition I place before you a track record of Obama’s effectiveness in playing process, backed by the inside acumen of Rahm Emanuel, in a script penned by one David Axelrod.
Sept. 15 is the deadline that the White House gave Senate negotiators to seek a bipartisan bill. As Chris would say, ‘timing is everything’.
UPDATE: 3 SEP 2009
Obama is scheduled to speak to both houses of Congress on the 9 SEP 2009 during which it is being widely reported that he will spell out his expectations with respect to the shape of a final healthcare bill.
UPDATE: 09 SEP 2009
Barack Obama’s speech to the members of Congress.