On Tuesday, the biggest story of the day was whether the public option had officially come out of retirement. Last week, after President Obama downplayed its importance as just a “sliver” of healthcare reform, the public option had all but cleaned out its locker. Political pundits immediately jumped on the story, claiming that the White House was “ready to drop [the] public option” and that Obama had “killed” it. (The killing was all done with the blessing of the death panel, of course.)
On Tuesday, however, the public option made a comeback. Robert Gibbs told press correspondents that Obama indeed “prefers a public option” and that it’s still a “priority.” Sixty House Democrats sent Kathleen Sebelius a love letter, imploring her to save the public option. Even Howard Dean made the rounds, saying that reform would not be possible without it… Yeeeaaaah!
Given the denials, the backpedaling, and all the ups and downs, polls show that Americans are getting sick of this talk. We just want to know what will happen next.
Well, here is where a Brett Favre analogy can help. Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback specializing in football and flippy floppies. He retired from the Green Bay Packers in March 2008, un-retired in August 2008 to play for the Jets, re-retired from the Jets in February 2009, and then un-re-retired just yesterday, announcing his intention to play for the Vikings.
With the public option, we’ve already done the retirement waffle dance. Now, it’s gametime. If we follow the Brett Favre Story, then we have a few more months of “will they” or “won’t they.” Once it’s decided upon that the public option will be included in the healthcare bill, it’ll keep things close… but in the end, it will ultimately fold under pressure. It will naturally stay in the pocket too long, get kicked around by angry Republicans clawing for a win in 2010, and toss up an ill-timed pass into coverage that will get intercepted by a watered-down bill of “reform.” Then, defeated once again, the public option shall retire to a field of diminutive co-ops, rising healthcare costs, and Wrangler jeans, forever reminiscing about the days of Obamacare and greener pastures by the bay.
It may be a stretch… but Favre did throw 22 interceptions last year. This won’t end well.