Even as the elected leader of the nation, its not an enviable position to be in. A policy change that should have been a slam dunk has become the biggest political battleground of my lifetime at least. As both the House and Senate deadlocked going into August recess, poll numbers for everyone started to drop and people starting asking, "what does Obama think?" Well, last night, we heard.
First, my criticism. Realistically, we're beginning to see that a public option is a long shot. Inexplicably, people would rather continue to suffer from price gouging than have a non-profit player enter the fold that they can hold accountable to force all insurers to lower their prices out of competition. People would vote against a program to hand out money for free if it was administered by the government. So I get it: committing to a public option as a necessity is suicidal. But that said, I still think Obama could have come out more strongly in favor of it. I like that he came out in favor of it, but the door was a little too open for my taste on letting it go. I also wish he'd made mention of the possible plans of a public option trigger that would kick in if other legislation fails to repair the problem without Congress having to pass another bill.
That aside, I personally thought the speech was very well written and very well delivered. Obama needs to buy his writers a round of beers. He hit on the key points and made them simple: the economy is tied to healthcare and without reform, it will continue to suffer; people who like their insurance now will not be affected in any way; our current system already forces us to pay for other people via a "hidden tax," (great word choice) but a reformed system would not; it won't raise the deficit; and public and private colleges show that competition will not be fatal to the private industry. It was a sweeping and fairly airtight argument in favor of doing something. He even hit back forcefully against a certain death panel rumor spreader which showed a little bit of spunk. Polls show a pretty strong majority of speech watchers approve of the President's plan, but that's pretty loaded because a majority of the speech watchers were probably liberal Democrats to begin with.
I think the importance of the speech will be seen in light of how independent voters react. If they react favorably, then it was a success. Otherwise, it fell short. Based on the current political atmosphere, two to one odds say it didn't convince enough.
But the real problem is the staunch opposition to Obama's plan. Its still early, but so far I haven't heard any actual counter-argument to anything Obama said, but a lot of criticism of the man himself. Not even half way through the speech, South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson shouted that Obama was a liar when he promised reform would not pick up the tab for illegal immigrants. This is exactly what is wrong with people. Pretty much since they saw the man for the first time, certain conservatives haven't trusted him. No reason really. They just think he's a liar. His birth certificate is a lie, his credentials are a lie, and his intentions are a lie. That gets us nowhere. The Republicans cry out for bipartisan interaction, but what they really want is not to be proven wrong. Wilson's outburst epitomizes the entire healthcare opposition and to a large extent, the opposition against Obama as a whole: I don't care what you say because you are a liar. Just like the way little kids used to fight in the sandbox in kindergarten.
There's talk of Congressional action that would allow circumnavigating the Republicans in the Senate altogether and getting a law through with fifty plus votes. I say go for it. The other side doesn't want to play ball. The legislation is more important than the reputations of those that pass it at this point. The Republicans have provided no criticism of the actual plan that has been provided by Obama so let's see it in action. Of course, we hear plenty of criticism about Obama's comment in his speech about avoiding the mistakes that got us here, apparently a jab at Bush's failures (the truth hurts). And that's where the argument is going to stay if the Republicans continue to lead it. They have no interest in fixing any problems as long as Democrats are around to share credit. Remember that.
Sphere: Related Content