Obama does health care dance with the devil


President Obama’s Wednesday night speech laying out his plan for health care reform was a home run, no question.

But then who among us was truly surprised by that? We already know Obama is one of the most gifted orators of our time, particularly among U.S. presidents, so I already pretty much figured the speech was going to blow the doors off the hinges. But this game is all about follow through, and follow-through is what comes next. That’s where we’ll see if our president knows how to really seal the deal.

As I was saying to a blogging buddy of mine the other day, I can understand President Obama’s desire to ‘reach across the aisle’ in an attempt to ‘bridge the gap’ with the Republicans in the interest of that ever-elusive shadow known as bipartisanship. It’s a noble sentiment, and if true bipartisanship ever lands on these shores, I’m sure it will be a wonderful thing to behold. But if, when you reach across that aisle, you wind up drawing back a nub, then that should tell you something; next time you need to bring a bigger, uglier, sharper machete  to the party.

In other words, screw bipartisanship. At least for now. The Republicans aren’t coming to the table, so leave them outside and let them eat scraps. When it comes to going to war for health care reform, Obama needs to reach deep down inside himself and locate his inner Lyndon Johnson. That would be the part that has no problem slashing somebody’s nuts off and holding them as ransom until the desired result is achieved. It’s perfectly OK to smile when you do it, matter of fact it’s expected (LBJ was famous for grabbing his colleagues by the lapels or slapping a heavy arm around their shoulder as he squeezed them in for the kill), but at the end of the day it’s the results that count.

And LBJ was all about results. Didn’t care who he had to squeeze and how hard, so long as he got what he needed. You really think he could have been so instrumental in getting both Civil Rights bills passed (Civil Rights Act of  1964 and1968) – and then the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – if he hadn’t known how to twist an arm until it was ready to snap? And these were the arms of white southern congressmen he was twisting, white southerners who openly wore their racism and commitment to segregation as a badge of honor. But in the end LBJ wore them down – and this was a man who grew up as PWT (poor white trash) from the hill country of Texas. He was one of them.

This is no time to be playing footsie with the devil, and the President needs to know that. He sounded like it for sure on Wednesday night, but like I said, the proof  is in the follow-through. The conservatives say a public option can’t pass the Senate, but the liberals say they won’t pass a health care reform bill without it. So Obama says he really, really does favor a public option – but still won’t insist on it.

Why defer to the conservative side?

Once again I confess I haven’t read the 1,000-page bill and I’m hardly a health care expert, so I’m relying in large part on what I’m reading in the papers and other background from folks I trust, including legislators. But from all I can see, it doesn’t seem to me that this is the kind of issue where you employ fancy Bill Clinton-style footwork. Not anymore.

This is a job for a hammer, using the heads of the opposition for the nail.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Read my wife’s blog @ The “D” Spot Redeux


~ by Keith A. Owens on September 9, 2009.

3 Responses to “Obama does health care dance with the devil”

  1. President Obama is an excellent speaker, as you say. If/when he finds his inner LBJ, let him start with last night’s heckler. Rep. Addison Graves “You can call me Joe” Wilson Sr. is the South Carolina Republican who shouted “You lie!” in the middle of the speech. Whether you agree with the President or not, Wilson’s outburst is totally unacceptable from a member of government at an official function. He needs to be censured and I hope his constituents dump him on his ass next election.

    As for the public option, I’d prefer to see something like the insurance exchange that’s been talked about. I think that’s why Obama left the door open. My concern with the public option is government will screw it up. If they could stop the $500 billion or so lost by Medicare and Medicaid through waste, fraud, and abuse, healthcare might not need fixing. We don’t need to add fuel to that fire.

    As for the bill itself, be careful about trusting legislators. They haven’t read it either. They’re just parroting what their staffers tell them to say. Do you think lobbyists spend any time with those staffers?

    BTW, another exceptionally well written post. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  2. And liar “Joe” Wilson loses it. What an idiot!

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