Public Thinks Obama Hanging With The Wrong Crowd

Maybe President Obama should stick to photo ops with first dog Bo if he wants to get a health care bill passed. That's one of the messages from the public opinion poll out today by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Obama at NIH. i

Public to Obama: more Bo and nurses, fewer men in suits. () Ron Edmonds/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Ron Edmonds/AP
Obama at NIH.

Public to Obama: more Bo and nurses, fewer men in suits. ()

Ron Edmonds/AP

No, the poll didn't actually ask about Bo. But it did ask about the public's view of interest groups involved in the health overhaul debate. And the public had a decided preference for some groups over others.

Groups the public had the most confidence "to recommend the right thing for the country when it comes to health care" included those representing nurses, patients and doctors, in that order. Groups in which they had the least confidence included health insurance companies, major corporations and pharmaceutical companies.

So what does this have to do with President Obama and photo ops? A lot, says Harvard polling expert Robert Blendon.

Because the longtime enemies of health overhaul efforts, like business groups and drugmakers, "have been the ones Congress and the president have been visibly trying to negotiate with," Blendon says.

And while that may make for a successful bill in the long run, he says, it may also "be another reason why the public doesn't have complete confidence in what they hear about these bills — that the groups who are visually seen negotiating are those least trusted."

The public, says Blendon, "would probably feel better if you saw nurses, the American Cancer Society and the Academy of Pediatrics around the table."

But keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is an age-old political strategy. You can hear more about it in Mara Liasson's story on today's Morning Edition.



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