Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama's Health Care Speech--September 9

Yes, millions of us are right now feverishly writing our impressions of President Obama's Joint Congressional Address on Health Care Reform.  But, the mighty ocean is filled with drops of water......
(Let me first say that I am a proud liberal Democrat and an Obama supporter...amazing, since less than 10 years ago I was leaning Republican....The story of that transformation will appear here in future posts.....An early metamorphosis into a re-invented man....)

The scenario I imagined this morning went something like this:
I hope tonight that Obama directly addresses all of the criticism of his health plan as he lays out the details......that he reminds Congress of his ideals, and maybe some of theirs....alludes to the balance of power.....even blasts the right wing media!! Of course, that's my ideal.....he will pay lip service to all of the right things....In the balance, I fear nothing will change.......
Now that I've heard it.....I thought the speech was brilliant .......First of all, he called out the right-wing media and put Republicans on notice that they, too, would be called out if they misrepresented the plan.  He actually addressed "death panels"!  as lies.  He did not back down from illegal-alien coverage or abortion coverage (both a NO in the plan), and kept his cool as he was heckled by a congressman from South Carolina.   He stated how the plan will cost less than unfunded Bush initiatives (Iraq, tax cuts for the rich).......  Second, he presented details with an evenness and enthusiasm that made those in the chamber who were not applauding appear dour one reviewer commented later, they were window-dressing......Third, he presented reasonable goals: security and stability for the insured, coverage for the uninsured, and slow growth of costs....... Fourth, he put the Public Option in  perspective as an ingredient of the plan, not the whole meal. For those of us who hoped he would have the courage to adopt a European-style plan, this didn't seem to go far enough, but he was reasonable and convinced me for now.

Finally, he concluded with an impassioned, historic appeal to the heart and character of Americans.  The audience listened in hushed attention as Obama related the details of a letter ,written in May by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to be revealed upon his death, in which he stated that we face a moral issue...with "the character of our country" at stake.

Even so, I am nervous about Obama's continued faith in bipartisanship.  I am also skeptical about how many of the talking points (such as mandating coverage regardless of preexisting condition, no caps on coverage, or limit to out-of-pocket expenses) will be negotiated away in an effort to reach compromise.

However, it will be an exciting time for us in the Obama camp, now that he finally appears to be ready to censure those who would rather score short-term political points by killing the plan rather than finding a long-term solution. I am more optimistic than I was this morning. 

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