Thursday :: Sep 10, 2009


by Turkana

The best part of President Obama's health care speech was when he took his critics head on. He called the death panel bullshit a lie. He said the claim that illegal immigrants would be covered is false. He said that no federal money would be used for abortion. He made clear that this isn't a government takeover, that anyone who is happy with their current health care can keep it, and that no one will be forced to enroll in his plan. That was the best part of his speech, and he deserves credit both on substance and style. He's very good at being substantive, and he's very good at being convincing and charismatic. Which is exactly why the worst part of his speech was so disappointing.

President Obama:

It's worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I've proposed tonight.

He's right.

But its impact shouldn't be exaggerated - by the left, the right, or the media.

Why shouldn't it be?

It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.

What ideological battles? It's easily the best idea on the table, and there is strong public support, so why not use this moment to promote it, to explain why it is the best idea on the table, and to remind the media hacks that there are reasons why a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option?

To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it.

The language here is interesting. When one says "my progressive friends", one generally isn't considered to be including oneself in such a cohort. President Obama does not seem to consider himself to be a progressive!

The public option is only a means to that end - and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.

Why? Instead of using this moment to discount its importance, why not use this moment to sell the idea?!

And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

Again note the language. The same language he used when addressing his progressive friends. The implication is that he's neither a progressive nor a Republican. He's something else. The implication being that progressives are just as much ideologues as are Republicans. The implication being that our ideology is comparable to theirs. The implication being that he is something else. Like a triangulator!

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring.

No. They are not. They are destructive "ideas" worth dismissing. Because they are designed as means to prevent actual health care reform.

But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

How do you do that without at least a robust public option? This was the moment to sell the idea, once and for all. Instead, we got equivocation. Or as it once was called, triangulation.

The problem is that the president compromised, from the start. He did not try for single payer. Had he done so, all the lies and all the hysteria would have been directed at that. The public option would have been seen as the compromise it actually is. By starting out from a compromised position, he has been forced to negotiate down from it rather than to it. It weakened his hand, both on policy and on politics. That's why triangulation has such a bad name. It's a shame President Obama considers we progressives to be but his friends. It's a shame he doesn't consider himself to be one of us.

Turkana :: 7:28 AM :: Comments (52) :: Digg It!