Dick Morris and  Eileen McGann

Then, in conference with the House, he will pull the old bait-and-switch tactic again, jettisoning the Senate bill and embracing a full-throated public option in the final version that will return to the Senate.

At that point, he hopes to use the momentum of House passage and the imprimatur of the conference committee to try to persuade senators, and the public, that it is this bill or no bill and that only a proposal with a robust public option can pass.

The point of this strategy is never to ask moderates to vote for a public option until the final vote after the conference committee. Let them build a record of having opposed the public option to sell back home. Let Reid show that he tried to compromise. And only put the final test to the moderate senators at the very last minute when all the momentum is on the side of final passage.

If he succeeds, Reid gets a bill with his public option. But, even if he fails and has to delete the public option at the last minute to get Senate support, he will still have gotten the health care bill through.

By making such a fuss over the public option, with the connivance of the liberals, he keeps the spotlight away from the Medicare cuts, the end of Medicare Advantage, the inevitable rationing of health care, the taxes on the uninsured and the sick, and the cuts in medical reimbursement. A bill with all these provisions -- even without a public option -- is pernicious enough!

And, these tactics can still produce a bill with a public option.

Will this tactic work? It all depends on the political environment outside Washington. If the bill is only marginally unpopular (the current 40 percent to 55 percent), it will probably pass. But if public opinion moves another 5 or so points (to, say, 35 percent to 60 percent against), then the moderates will probably refuse to cave in.


Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Dick Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of 2010: Take Back America. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to www.dickmorris.com