By David Swanson
Congressman John Conyers spoke to a crowd of activists from around the country at Busboys and Poets restaurant in Washington, D.C., Thursday evening at a fifth birthday party for Progressive Democrats of America. Conyers opened by remarking:
“There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama.”
This comment sank in hard for some of the activists in the room who had been told by Conyers last year that electing Obama took precedence over impeaching Dick Cheney. But Thursday was about healthcare, and Conyers is the undisputed progressive champion on that issue.
“Buddy,” said Conyers, referring to President Obama, “you are wrong on healthcare and it’s going to cost you big time.”
Conyers suggested that it was very likely Congress would not pass any healthcare bill this year. The Blue Dogs and Republicans don’t want anything, he said, and the Progressives are “saying this is a piece of crap and we’re not voting for it.” If you add up all the Blue Dogs and Republicans and Progressives, Conyers said, you get “more than 218 to sink this bill!”
Or, Congressman Conyers continued, “suppose we happen to pass it? Big deal. That’s what Rahm Emanuel wants — pass anything just to say we did.” A weak plan, Conyers said, would not help things: “It’s going to fail.”
In either case, Conyers concluded, whether we get no bill or a weak bill, “they’ll blame Barack Obama. Heads he loses, tails he loses.” So, Conyers said, “we’ve got to tell Obama now, or he’ll be a one term president.”
Conyers’ analysis appeared to be that the media and the public would unfairly blame a president for whatever goes wrong in Congress. But Conyers himself put the blame on Obama for not compelling Congress to enact more serious healthcare reform. The idea that Congress could pass a good bill against the wishes of the president and then force him, for his own good (not to mention ours), to sign or veto it was not on the radar.