Helen's right, damn it. And look at Gibbs' deflection: "We've had a pretty good week." Sorry, Gibby, health-care reform is slowly slipping away. Don't just stand there.
Here are my thoughts on what the White House did wrong, in no particular order:
1) Obama outsourced the legislation to Congress instead of presenting it himself and working with them to write the details. He thought he'd outsmart the GOP by doing the opposite of the Clinton plan, but instead the bill is now lost on a sea of "compromise."
2) Bipartisanship. You just can't work with ideologues who refuse to operate in good faith. They're true believers, they will never give an inch. You'd think Obama would have picked up that little lesson while studying the Clinton era.
3) Blue Dogs. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi need to come up with new strategies, since kissing their collective Blue Dog butts only inflates their already-swollen egos. Someone (Obama?) should lay down the law. Put them in the worst offices, cut their staff budgets until they cooperate. Lyndon Johnson wouldn't be holding their hands.
4) Single payer. It would have been so much easier if we'd started with it. Hell, we might even have won - and it's simple enough that most people would understand. But whatever.
5) He should have come out fighting for the public option earlier this year. Instead, he let the opponents (and the insurance companies) define the public perception. BIG rookie mistake.
6) It's one thing to meet with relevant stakeholders (insurance companies, Big Pharma, etc.) It's another thing to trust them. (See Otter, "Animal House": "You f***ed up, you trusted me!")
7) He should have included a public advocate to speak for ordinary people in every healthcare meeting. (Hell, does he even HAVE a public advocate? Because he should. I'm available.)
8 ) Obama is just not good at explaining complicated things to ordinary people, especially when he's not working from a script. He drones on and goes off on tangents. He should use more surrogates, Michelle might have done a better job. Hell, Bo might have done a better job. (I understand the political reasons he didn't ask Bill Clinton, but that may have been a fatal error. The Big Dog would have sold the hell out of the healthcare plan.)
9) The President should have made it clear from the beginning that the main focus of this bill is to make life better for Americans. All that blah blah blah about "bending the cost curve" and "controlling costs" only fed the public paranoia about rationing. (All he had to do was compare the public option to the assigned risk pool for auto insurance, and they would have gotten it.) Yes, in one of his speeches, he talked about how the bill would give everyone security, but when you're selling something, you need to stay on message. He's given us so many reasons why we should support this bill, I can't even remember them all - and I'm actually paying attention!
10) Don't negotiate from the middle, damn it. Ask for the moon and stars, and work your way toward the middle, or risk people thinking you're a corporatist tool. (Ahem.)