Unfortunately, the Obama people are following the standard DLC playbook and trying to pour cold water on the party activists. One would think the DLC would have learned from 14 years in exile and the success of the "50 State Strategy" that this is the wrong move. The appropriate strategy here, IMO, is not to try to suppress the revolt but redirect it. But such popular energy is as much anathema to the DLC as it was the bread and butter of the Obama campaign and the successful Congressional campaign of 2006.
If Obama told supporters "I'm not the one you have to convince, go forth and fight like Hell for a public option and I will be able to go back to Kent Conrad and demand it," they would unleash a tremendous amount of energy in getting a bill passed, reenforce Obama's ability to control the agenda within his own party, and recapture the grassroots element of the debate. It is one thing to have polls that show support for the public option, it is another thing to have a widely publicized revolt in the party that makes the "centrists" intent on courting conservatives wake up to the need to keep their own base engaged. But Obama seems to have abandoned the very strategy that made his candidacy successful precisely because it conflicts with the desire of the DLC to make policy a matter of internal horsetrading among party leaders and limit "the masses" to campaign contributions and turning out to vote.
It is not surprising that Rahm Emmanuel, who has proven perennially tone deaf to the needs of the "net roots" and party activists, urges this approach. It is more surprising that David Axelrod and others who engineered Obama's campaign have not or cannot overrule him. And they need to, quickly. Not merely to rally the troops to support healthcare reform, but to win elections in 2010 and 2012.