Over the past few months the Barack Obama administration has not only had to deal with Republican opposition to the Health Care Reform Bill, more importantly it also has had to factor in the current trend in Congress, specifically, centrist Democrats and Independents who have held health care legislation hostage in order to receive preferential treatment for their constituents. It started with Mary Landrieu (D-LA), then Joe Lieberman took his turn, and most recently Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska joined in. Although we will not know the price Democrats will pay in terms of seats for some time; for the time being its safe to say that Republicans will use the Democratic deal-making trend to reinforce negative attitudes about health care reform.
It's a two-edged sword, but an argument Republicans can probably win in the court of public opinion. The reason is that for some reason, every time a Democrat threatened to block health care it was in front of a camera, and the news spread like wild fire. The fact that many Republicans are in bed with large health insurance companies has been pushed to the back of everyone's mind.
Much of the blame for the backlash can be placed on the shoulders of Mary Landrieu. The product of a long line of Louisiana Dixiecrats, Mary Landrieu is an expert at playing a soft version of the race card. Intuitively knowing the subtle nuances involved, she masterfully worked with black Democratic leaders in Louisiana, from former Representative William Jefferson to former Mayor of New Orleans Marc Morial; now head of the National Urban League, and survived to tell about it, all the while deftly reassuring her mostly white moderate constituents that she had their interests at heart. Now Landrieu has taken her Louisiana style of politics to the big leagues. If the Obama administration staffers do not keep an eye on Landrieu they will not know what hit them in 2012. Louisiana politicians are known for not looking at the big picture, they are more into the here and now, the result of a poor Louisiana economy which has helped breed politicians who usually think three moves in advance when everyone else is thinking seven.
It's safe to say Chicago politics are much more advanced than New Orleans' tired system of sweetheart deals that have kept the city from growing economically; but the Obama administration should still take note of their dealings with Landrieu for future reference. Louisiana politicians are well known for going to the well once, taking a step back and bragging about their handiwork, and then going to the well one more time for good measure.