From the AP story: Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as President Barack Obama met Democratic leaders to search for ways to salvage his health care overhaul. Has Obama lost his mind? Have the so-called Democratic leaders? Are they so tone deaf that they have no concept of the damage that a headline like this one can do? How has Team Obama managed to become isolated from public opinion in just eight months? The White House has zero message discipline. They have talked about paying for their health care plan by (1) taxing the rich; (2) taxing the middle class; (3) taxing health benefits; (4) taking some of the money raised by their cap-and-trade energy bill; and now (5) taxing the uninsured. The Republicans must be turning back flips. As for the Democratic leaders in Congress, don’t they know there is an election in 2010? Obama and his inner circle operate as if they are still in Chicago. There, the local political machine was so efficient that the word would go out, and whatever needed to get done got done. Washington is not Chicago. Just because Obama is president doesn’t mean that he automatically gets his way. Here is the problem the Democrats face: They won back Congress and the White House not because of anything they did, but because the Republicans totally blew it. A year ago the polls showed that the public trusted the Democrats more than the Republicans in every political issue, including national security, but, most important of all, in management of the economy. This was an incredible turnaround in American politics, but Obama has squandered it, and they will not soon get it back. Pushing energy and health care legislation that would not take effect until well into the next decade, instead of concentrating on the economy and jobs, was a major misjudgment. If the Democrats think that the way to win back public confidence is to tax Americans without health insurance, they are more out of touch than I thought they were.