Rep. John Conyers took a broad swipe at President Obama and his chief of staff on Thursday, accusing them of "bowing down" to "nutty right-wing" health care proposals in a principle-less effort to get legislation passed.
Appearing on the Bill Press Show, the longtime Michigan Democrat said he was tired of the just-get-something-done attitude of Rahm Emanuel, and insisted that Obama had moved far away from being the "ardent single-payer enthusiast" he once was.
"I'm getting tired of saving Obama's can in the White House," said Conyers. "I mean, he only won by five votes in the House, and this bill wasn't anything to write home about. The public option is only available, which is the only way you manage cost and get some competition to 1,300 other health insurance companies, the only way he could have got that through is that progressives held their nose and voted for it anyway."
Asked if the president had shown enough leadership in the health care debate, Conyers facetiously wondered why Press would ask the question.
"Of course not, of course not," he said. "You know, holding hands out and beer on Friday nights in the White House and bowing down to every nutty right-wing proposal about health care, and saying on occasion that public options aren't all that important is doing a disservice to the Barack Obama that I first met who was an ardent single-payer enthusiast himself."
The 22-term congressman was critical of the White House on fronts beyond just health care. He led off the interview by declaring that he was tied of "trying to stop the war in Afghanistan from surging." He also took several swipes at Emanuel, whom he called, with a slightly derogatory tone, his "buddy."
"That is essentially what Rahm Emanuel has said: Just give us anything and we will declare victory," said Conyers. "Not only is it not a victory, but when it doesn't work, guess who will come at him: the same guys that were saying let's go along with anything... This is all my buddy Rahm Emanuel trying to get anything. But look the bill doesn't go into effect for three years. Many of the people that we are trying to help will be dead by then."