Vocabulary Lesson: The Right-Wing Radicals Of The Senate Are 'Moderates' In Beltway Speak

I was reading this story about Obama trying to get the progressives into line behind his healthcare surrender compromise, and I was intrigued by the language. What does "moderate" mean, class?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Obama prepares to go before Congress and lay out more details about his stance on health reform, he held a conference call Friday with some of the most liberal members of the House, who say they won't vote for a bill without a government-run insurance option.

Two congresswomen on the call, which took place Friday afternoon, tell CNN that the president probed them about how entrenched they are, even asking them to define what they mean when they call for a "robust" public option.

"I think he would like to convince us that there is something sort of that could lead to a public option that would satisfy us, and guess what? It doesn't," Rep. Lynne Woolsey, D-California, told CNN in a telephone interview after the conference call.

Woolsey, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, insisted that the president did not explicitly warn them that he may have to give up a so-called public option in order to pass a bill through the more moderate Senate, but it seemed he was laying the groundwork.

There's that Overton window again! If the Senate is "moderate" (i.e. too flipping wingnut crazy to even consider the truly moderate compromise of a public option), that must mean the actual moderates in the progressive caucus are literally INSANE!

"He has to decide where that line has to be drawn and he knows we have to decide where the line can be drawn," said Woolsey.

The conference call included leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Another Democratic source familiar with the call said the president did made clear it will be hard to pass a public option out of Congress because of deep opposition from moderates, and talked about what's most important to him — market reforms that force more competition, lower costs for health care, and expanded coverage for the uninsured.

But both Woolsey and Rep Barbara Lee, D-California, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told CNN that they told the president point blank that they do not believe a health care proposal without a government-run option is real reform.

"All of our caucuses are very unified about a robust public option, and that is essential in healthcare reform efforts," Lee told CNN in a separate phone interview after the conference call.

Here's the White House thinking, as leaked by another one of those very busy White House sources *cough* Rahm Emanuel *cough*:

A Democratic source close to the process told CNN Friday that the White House was very conscious of the potential congressional fallout: "How do you [get the deal passed] without a revolt in the House? It can be done, but very delicately."

The bottom line, said the source, is that the president would have to "move to the center" on the issue eventually, "and it's not a bad thing to have liberals screaming at him." That development will help sell the deal to Americans and "convince them it's a good, moderate deal, if liberals are mad."

No, Rahm, we won't be screaming. In fact, we'll be very, very quiet. Screw us on healthcare reform, and all you'll hear is the Zen sound of a few million activists sitting on their hands for the next four years.

No more checks, no more phone banking, no more letters or calls of support. You're on your own now, pal. Go ask your new "moderate" friends for help.

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