The White House press corps is still playing the game of trying to pin down the President with speculation about what actions by foreign leaders will be unacceptable to the United States, or what features of health care reform are non-negotiable. The President refuses to get painted into a corner with such questions. Here, for example, is his response to a question on whether the so-called "public option" is a non-negotiable feature of his health care reform proposal:
We are so used to presidents who operate by making pronouncements and demands, and telling everyone what they will do if others do not meet their conditions, that we are still having trouble getting used to someone who operates in a much different way, by trying to build consensus in advance, and by refusing to foreclose any options. As a contrast, I well remember Bill Clinton in one of his State of the Union messages waving his pen and threatening to veto any health care bill that did not meet his conditions. As we know, however, he didn't get any kind of health care reform legislation from Congress at all, and nearly fifteen years has passed with no significant progress on this issue. Barack Obama is going to be accused of being weak and unprincipled, and the health care reform that is going to pass Congress is not going to satisfy everyone, but he is likely to get a significant health care reform bill passed this year.