From the very outset of the health reform legislation debate, I had this premonition that when the House and Senate bills reached the conference committee for reconciliation, President Barack Obama would come charging to the rescue like the hero wearing the white hat in those old western movies.
He still may do that if the Senate manages to actually pass a bill but he is quickly running out of ammunition. He did fire a silver bullet by sending Tonto disguised as former President Bill Clinton to the Senate today to rally the troops.
Rep. John Conyers, the veteran congressman from Detroit, also fired a shot not at the Senate but at the president himself. Essentially, Conyers told the president to get off his duff, take names and kick some butt exactly the way former President Lyndon Johnson did to get crucial civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s.
The advise from both seasoned pols has its drawbacks. Clinton's health reform plan failed. While Johnson won the civil rights battle, he lost The South to the Republicans for generations still counting.
Clinton's advise seems to be to do nothing is failure. The man could sell refrigerators to Eskimos. Conyers's pitch is to strike out the Republicans and do everything short of bribing the Democrats to stand as one.
Obama has backed himself in a corner giving the impression that his health reform agenda is his number one priority that must be passed in his first year of his first term. For an issue that could make or break his presidency, Obama is not acting like it. Yet.
He's facing overwhelming odds in igniting sentiment from his core supporters -- blacks, youth and independents. The exit polls from last Tuesday's off-year elections and national polls place health care reform far behind jobs, deficit spending and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.Conyers' statements, he's just another liberal voicing wishful thinking.
Fate of the health reform legislation is in Obama's hands and answers the question whether he can actually govern or just talk the talk.