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Conventional Wisdom Watch: Considering All Things Health Care with Mara Liasson

Mara Liasson

As a political matter, certainly in the House of Representatives and probably in the Senate, there is no liberal Democrat who will lose their seat if there is not a public option in the bill, but there are moderates and conservative Democrats who might.

Thus spake NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson on Thursday’s edition of All Things Considered. And, when I first heard it, I assumed that Liasson was stating (awkwardly) what is the usual “analysis” that emanates from inside the Beltway: All the liberal Democrats are safe come the next election, whether or not they insist on health care reform that includes a public option, whereas the so-called “moderates,” or conservatives, or Blue Dogs need to hold fast against a public option being included because their electoral lives depend on it.

But now? Well. . .

You can certainly forgive my hasty conclusion. All Things Considered’s favorite Fox News employee (ATC is apparently on after Juan Williams’ bedtime) has been nothing if not a reliable regurgitator of the conventional wisdom (which is to say, she just says shit that isn’t true, pretending it is all so obvious that she doesn’t have to back it up with evidence) for a long time. But, when a colleague asked after reading my contemporaneous transcription if Liasson meant what I detailed above, or whether she wasn’t saying something much closer to how it reads—that some moderates and conservative Democrats might lose their seats if they vote against the interests of an overwhelming majority of Americans and block the inclusion of a public option.

I actually think the latter is much closer to the truth—and actually might go so far as to say that some liberal to progressive Democrats will face stiff primary challenges if they don’t hold firm for a public plan. But some unnamed White House sources Rahm and his Blue Dog minions would have us believe otherwise—there is nothing so dangerous, they would say, as favoring the general population over corporate interests.

So, I went back and listened again. Guess what? I think Mara Liasson might be siding with me on this point.

Crazy—I know!

Don’t get me wrong, the report isn’t perfect. Liasson gives us the dangerous argument “’not passing something’—anything—is the biggest political mistake Dems can make” as if that were indeed a given; and she pumps up the status of Republican Olympia Snowe and “her” triggers—“she is the only Republican who is negotiating in good faith,” says Mara (though, inherent here is that none of the other Republicans are—which is another surprising admission from Liasson). But the understanding that it is the conservative Democrats who might be in trouble if they don’t give the country a public option—if they stand in the way of real reform—really outweighs the report’s shortcomings. . .

. . . that is if I heard it correctly.

But if I did, and from such a font of conventional wisdom as Mara Liasson, then maybe, just maybe, that wisdom has started to shift.

(And, I might add, the reason that the conventional wisdom has started to shift is due in large part to your efforts. Thanks to all who have called, prodded, questioned and whipped their Representatives. Keep up the good work!)

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine