Just a few weeks into President Obama's term, Republicans were already plotting to bring him down, and they were focusing on what would become his signature healthcare reform law. According to former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, the Republican strategy to "break" the president was determined before he had announced any details of a plan.
In "While America Sleeps," due on book shelves February 21, Feingold—a champion of the left—describes a private meeting he hosted with Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to discuss state-based healthcare, which all three legislators had proposed.
By then, the president had made it clear that he would make national healthcare reform his top priority. Feingold writes that Graham, "affable as always, and candid as often," said, "the decision's already been made to bring Obama down on healthcare." This Republican strategy didn't become fully apparent until July 2009, writes Feingold, when "the very conservative Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina came right out in public and said, 'If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.'"