Krystal Ball For Public Option, Scott Robinson Refuses to Answer

Sunday, February 28, 2010

As we've already seen on energy and environment, "Don't Ask Don't Tell", guns and jobs, the contrast between Scott Robinson and Krystal Ball could not be greater. The contrast isn't just on the two candidates' positions on the issues, but also on their depth of knowledge and willingness to lead on a wide variety of subjects. As we've seen in case after case, Krystal is a strong leader from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." In contrast, Scott Robinson is a conservative Democrat on issue after issue, all while attempting to hide that conservatism behind evasiveness ("I'm gonna wait until the study is conducted"), talking about a technology that almost certainly will never be economically or technologically viable as a solution to our problems ("breeder" reactors), or outright refusing to answer a direct question from an audience member (see video above at 1:20). Lame.

With regard to the public option, which was discussed in the Stafford County Democratic Committee forum 8 days ago, Krystal Ball is clear and strong:
I’ve been a vocal supporter of the public option from the beginning. And I would have absolutely voted for the health care bill that passed the House. I think that the public option is a critical part of reform because it is one of the most serious efforts that we have in the House bill to actually cut costs and increase competition. It’s the exact sort of thing that a responsible Republican should be for. It’s not a left-wing socialist government takeover. It’s a responsible way to increase competition. And I think it is an important part of reform.
Exactly, thank you Krystal Ball!

In sharp contrast, Scott Robinson avoids a direct answer, bobbing and weaving about "not get[ting] wrapped up on what the term is." Oddly, Robinson claims to support any plan that "lowers the available to all Americans affordable." Yet, as "Leaving My Marc" points out, "[t]he public option is a critical part in attaining the competition that is needed to meet those three principles." Also, as most of us know, the public option is one of the most popular pieces of health care reform among the general public. So why is it so hard for Scott Robinson to say he supports (or, more likely, opposes) it?

As if all that isn't bad enough, Robinson disses the public option by claiming it is somehow part of a utopian "perfect plan" (that, presumably, progressives shouldn't be pushing). "As a result," according to Robinson, "we have no plan." Of course, that's an absurd straw man argument. The fact is, most progressives have strongly supported the public option, but most of us also have been clear that if there's no public option in there, we are willing to swallow hard and support passage of President Obama's health care plan as an important step forward in this area. Also, I'd point out that if Congress goes to "reconciliation," there are almost certainly 51 votes for the public option in the U.S. Senate, why a public option leads inexorably to "no plan" is beyond me.

In the end, what really bothers me about Scott Robinson's (non)response here is the unspoken subtext. Essentially, what we have is a conservative Democrat buying into Republican framing (that the "public option" is some utopian but unreasonable vision of the "perfect" that's killing the "good"). In addition, what we have is a conservative Democrat implicitly blaming progressives for holding up progressive legislation, as opposed to pointing his finer at the real culprits - the monolithic, kneejerk opposition of the Eric Cantor/John Boehner/Mitch McConnell right-wing Republicans. That's infuriating. And, as if all that's not bad enough, we can't even get a straight answer from said Democrat to a simple "yes or no" question from the audience. I mean, c'mon, how hard is it to answer "yes" or "no" on whether you support the public option? And why would any Democrat support a candidate who refuses to answer such a basic question on an important issue? Sorry, we've seen this movie before, and we don't want to see it again.