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Starr: The Edwards Threat

11:20 AM, Nov 14, 2007 • By RICHARD STARR
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John Edwards has a chest-thumping new ad, in which he threatens Congress and his own putative future cabinet with the loss of their health care, if they don't do his bidding and pass universal health care:

When I'm president, I'm going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration including my cabinet, I'm glad that you have health care coverage and your family has health care coverage. But if you don't pass universal health care by July 2009, in six months, I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.

Mickey Kaus and the Hillary Clinton campaign and even one of the DailyKos contributors all make versions of the same critique: No can do, Bubba. Your "power as president" doesn't extend to interfering unilaterally with the compensation packages of congressmen.

Edwards's threat is obviously theatrical. But it's terrible theater on a deeper level than his liberal critics realize. Edwards wants to expand the federal role in the health-care market. Meanwhile, he thinks it's fine and dandy to use access to health care as a form of political blackmail. Sounds like an excellent reason (a) never to trust this man with executive power and (b) to keep power-mad politicians as far away from the health-care system as we can.