In his column today, George Will begins by flaying President Obama for being too meek to propose a health care reform that would transition workers out of employer-sponsored health care:
His timidity was displayed when he flinched from fighting for the boldness the nation needs -- a transition from the irrationality of employer-provided health insurance.
Okay, fair enough. Some liberals preferred a bill like Wyden-Bennett, which would have disrupted employer-sponsored health care. But employer opposition was fierce, it was easy to frighten the public about a bill that would have moved lots of people out of their current arrangements, Republican support melted away almost instantaneously, and Obama probably had no chance but to leave as much of the current system in place as possible.
Will proceeds to flay Obama for being too disdainful of political reality:
"I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, academically approved approach to health care, and didn't have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that's not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately, what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people."
Note his aesthetic criterion of elegance, by which he probably means sublime complexity. ...
So note also Obama's yearning for something "academically approved" rather than something resulting from "a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people," a.k.a. politics.
What? If you read the context of Obama's answer, he was saying that he wished the bill was less complex, not more. The kind of bill he's referring to that doesn't require lots of negotiations with interest groups is the kind of bill that you, George Will, attacked him for not proposing in that same column, eight paragraphs earlier. If we're going to subject Obama to mutually exclusive critiques, can we at least keep them in separate columns?