Liberal Push

Does anyone remember MoveOn.org? They used to be against the war in Iraq back when George W. Bush was in charge. Nowadays, they don't seem to be accusing any generals of treason.

As part of a broad liberal push to counteract conservative opponents, the activist group MoveOn.org says it expects to attract 50,000 participants to 350 health-care "vigils" around the country tonight.

"Participants will light candles, hold pictures, and share the names and stories of those suffering under the current health care system to show the desperate need for a real public health insurance option," MoveOn.org said in statement announcing the events.

Anti-reform outrage, a natural and organic expression of dissent that swept the nation this summer was characterized by liberals as "astroturf," as in a faux grassroots movement, the response from the libs is the opposite of grassroots - it's top down.

The vigils come amid a flurry of organizing by the Democratic National Committee and other liberal groups as they attempt to regain control of the Washington debate over President Obama's health-care reform plans. After weeks dominated by noisy conservative protests at congressional town-hall meetings, the DNC, MoveOn.org and others in support of reform say they are aiming to refocus attention on the need for dramatic changes to the country's troubled health-care system.

Obama, meanwhile, seems to be backing off, again, from the Public Option, the most notorious element of the reform package, which serves no purpose other than laying the groundwork for an eventual single payer structure.

Obama is considering detailing his health-care demands in a major speech as soon as next week, when Congress returns from the August recess. And although House leaders have said their members will demand the inclusion of a public insurance option, Obama has no plans to insist on it himself, the officials said.

Obama has forced himself into a corner. Bailing on the Public Option will make the radical wing of his party, which finally thought it could relax now that it has one of its own in office, furious - while not giving up on single payer, for now, threatens to implode the entire effort.

Top officials privately concede the past six weeks have taken their toll on Obama's popularity. But the officials also see the new diminished expectations as an opportunity to prove their critics wrong by signing a health care law, showing progress in Afghanistan, and using this month's anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers to push for a crackdown on Wall Street.

Progress on Afghanistan appears unlikely, while returning the nation's focus on the financial meltdown might just remind folks how upset they are over the Wall Street and auto maker bailouts. If that's the turnaround plan, things are even more pessimistic for the fast sinking Obama boat.