The informal debate in many progressive households now is over whether Obama’s centrist policies are an indicator of his true beliefs, or if they reflect what he thinks is the most that can be enacted considering Blue Dog limitations and Obama’s unrealistic Charlie-Brown-and-the-football drive to obtain consensus with the Lucypublicans, or if, indeed, he has gone over to the Dark Side and made a deal with the lobbyists.

In any case, he made a huge tactical error by taking single payer off the table at the start of the debate. We national healthcare supporters are loud and well-educated and would have made the much weaker and more vulnerable public option seem moderate by comparison. Allowing the public option to be the starting point for compromise has created a situation where the public option could end up being a huge windfall for the insurance companies, and, sadly, the drug companies are already on board. Not a good sign.

This disenfranchisement of the progressive voice has been a tragic on-going failure for Obama. No progressive economists have been invited into his inner circle, and – surprise! – no meaningful bank or mortgage reform has ensued. Krugman, among others, warned right from the start that the initial bail-out funds weren’t going to be enough, that Obama would only have one chance to secure funding before public disillusionment set in, that coming back a second time will be much harder. Surprise again! The Waxman-Markey climate bill is so weak that the progressive community split over supporting it. And our constitutional law professor president has simply turned away from any civil liberties restoration. These are just four cuts out of the thousand the progressive community is grieving.

And now Obama is watering down health care reform by timidly presenting the very flawed public option as radical reform and by allowing discussion of the co-op alternative as an acceptable fall-back position. Again this is a strategic blunder. I believe public opinion is going to get this one right: that so many people have been screwed over by the health industries that they’ll support national healthcare once they truly understand it. I believe the big ship of public opinion is already starting to turn, thanks in large part to the media, of all things.

For once I agree with the far right. I say we slow the process way down, let the high-profile anti-health-reform people be exposed for the shills they are, let the truth of single-payer sink into the public awareness, and, for once, get the right thing done. Our one missing ingredient is a leader who can inspire, market and unite all the well-meaning progressive groups into one strong voice,

There’s a reason Canadians voted Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian of All-Time. Where is our Tommy Douglas? Governor Dean? Governor Dean? …