Friday :: Jun 26, 2009

Be Patient = Forgive Us For Failing


by paradox

I apologize, I forgot to run spell-check yesterday. It’s amateur writing but I think that’s grossly disrespectful to the reader, I’m sorry, and I’ll try very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Ezra Klein, he of the condescending view that demanding single-payer health insurance is naïve perfectionism, linked to an American Prospect piece yesterday called The Audacity of Patience, which basically said look, even if we don’t get a public option this year, chill out. Relax, there’s always next year, right?

Mm. Conventional wisdom is often absurdly wrong and no one likes rebelling toward it more than I, but the cw that major policy initiatives must be passed in the first year of any President’s term is probably the most implacably set cw dictum in existence for American politics today.

I distinctly remember Josh Marshall, doctorate of American history, precisely re-enforcing this wisdom much earlier in the year: if it’s huge get it done in the first year of the term or not at all. The empirical record of health care legislation, in fact, exactly mirrors the conventional wisdom: Clinton tried and failed his first year in 1992 and then couldn’t even try one more time after winning yet again in 1996.

So if no serious reform happens with healthcare this year all is forgiven, right? Obama tried at least, eh? Every year is always a new opportunity, don’t you know? Be patient.

Not. For once I actually agree with conventional wisdom and Dr. Marshall, history shows us that presidents have a very poor record at tenaciously introducing major legislation year after year, probably because no politician wants to repeat the humiliation and embarrassment of major failure every year. Go figure.

So it’s almost—but not totally—certain that if major reform doesn’t happen for healthcare in the next 30 days nothing will happen for at least 4 years. I will not be patient with that outcome, it’s disastrous on many fronts, and neither will the American people, Obama and the Democratic Party will heavily pay for it. Not enough to lose the 2012 election, but still a very heavy price.

That disaster hasn’t happened yet, there’s no need to get into the details of that horror right now (thankfully), but I do think two relevant points need to be made before I move on with my day.

The first is that almost all of my stated motivation so far for passing healthcare comes from a pure political worldview, I’ve never seen such a great golden opportunity to get something done and it will be tragically absurd if we so chumpishly fail.

Very true, but we should be appalled at failure for Americans who continue to so horribly suffer because our healthcare system is so manifestly fucked up. That gross dysfunction creates a howling wind of pain and grief every single day for millions of Americans, and it is those little people, our brother and sister citizens, who should primarily motivate our actions.

“I love you,” nyceve said to Ezra Klein in Texas before righteously upbraiding him for leaving single payer out of 2009 healthcare strategy. My second point is that my work was hurriedly lazy and sloppy yesterday, I came across as far too combative and contemptuous of Ezra Klein, sorry about that.

He’s a great guy and far more successful in a career track than I’ll likely ever be. He’s wrong about single payer strategy and the urgency to get something done this year, but he is a fine man and the United States is a much better place having him as a journalist at the Washington Post.

Just don’t make me and the country be patient about failure in healthcare this year, Ezra Klein and President Obama. That would be a very, very unwise political strategy going into the 2010 midterms, and failure there would more subsequent collapse of liberal and progressive goals. That's why Presidents usually only have one chance to succeed, and that time is now. Good luck.

paradox :: 7:30 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!