I intend to live blog the President’s speech tonight, paying especially close attention to what he might say about a public option. However, a big part of me agrees with Timothy Noah — enough with the speeches already. Call in the Dems and bust chops.
Every other day I read a news story that says support for “the President’s health care proposal” is slipping. But in a way this is nonsense, because it’s really hard to tell what “the President’s health care proposal” is at the moment, so what, exactly, are people not supporting?
Right now, the country seems divided between two sets of people who are not on board with what they think the President is proposing. One group doesn’t like what they think the President is proposing because it doesn’t go far enough to genuinely reform the system. The other group doesn’t like what they think the President is proposing because it’s the President — you know, the black guy — proposing it.
The first group for the most part understands the major possible components of a potential health care bill being discussed in Congress, but they (me included) worry that the public option is being thrown under the bus for the sake of getting something passed. (See Mike Madden, “Is Something Better Than Nothing on Healthcare?“)
The second group for the most part has no more understanding of the major possible components of a potential health care bill than they understand quantum physics, which is to say they wouldn’t recognize any of it if it rose up out of the sidewalk and bit their butts. They are objecting robustly to straw man proposals presented to them by the moneyed special interests who want to stop reform because the system as it is now is a gravy train for them.
So people are objecting all over the place. But these are not objections to health care reform. Instead, the objections come from a sense of foreboding about a looming dreadful thing. The dreadful thing may be that genuine health care reform will be once again kicked forward into an unknowable future, or that or death squads will be coming to shoot grandma. Take your pick.
Even the reasonably rational objection one hears about cost — i.e., I want reform but I’m afraid it will cost too much — overlooks the tangible fact that not reforming the system will cost even more. However, I can’t blame people much for not understanding that, since one rarely hears it explained in mass media.
President Obama could have done a much better job keeping people focused on the Real Issues, I think, but he’s not really a fire-in-the-belly sort, is he? He’s more cerebral, which is a quality I appreciate. But in the real world, keeping your head when everyone else is losing theirs usually makes you the mob’s first target. Put another way, in the land of the blind a one-eyed man is not king. He’s a freak.
Well, we’ll see what he says tonight.
More to read:
Paul Krugman, “Why the Public Option Matters”
Paul Krugman, “Hoping for Audacity”
Alex Koppelman, “‘Public option’ inventor defends it”
Vincent Rossmeier, “Palin continues terror crusade”
Robert Reich, “Why a ‘trigger’ for the public option is nonsense“