Ezra Klein is asking: “How much do Republicans fear the Obama administration’s coming health reform campaign today? How much did they fear it a week ago?”:
To put it slightly differently: A lot of the Republican strategy will be predicated on whether they think, from the outset, that they can kill health reform and hand Obama a failure on the very issue that he said voters should use to “judge my first term as president.” If they think they can, they will.
I tend to think that a lot of this is in the hands of the Democrats. With or without Daschle — and admittedly, it would have been easier with Daschle — proponents of reform have the wind at their backs: the President believes that health reform is key priority and Congressional leaders are ready to act. The economic crisis not only provides the opportunity for large-scale reform but, fiscally speaking, it demands it. And if the Democrats rally around a single message and clearly articulate the need for reform, public support for change, which is already at record highs, will only grow and Republican obstructionism will be seen for what it is.
So, the whole conversation about the consequences of Daschle stepping down is a bit misguided. I think the real question is: are the Democrats still willing to invest political capital in health reform in the wake of Daschle’s departure? Of course it will be “harder,” but that’s what politics is all about.