Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick Health Care Reform Post-game Show

I grieved the loss of the public option last year. My fear over the past month was more political: that the Democrats would once again get scared of offending someone rather than realize that people respect parties and politicians who disagree with them if one knows where they stand. So winning this vote, as weak as the actual legislation is, should work as a confidence-builder.

Most of the Democrats in Congress have spent their entire careers cowering in fear of someone calling them a “liberal.” It took new blood, someone like Al Franken who hadn't had time to get into the DLC-Frum-Carville defensive crouch, to get impatient and demand that Obama do some spadework on this. And then Pelosi's sharp-elbowed personality, which I hadn't ever found endearing before, was put to good use.

As for the legislation itself, I'm persuaded by the analysis that it's a foot in the door, and an important re-definition of the federal role in health care. We’re closer to a single-payer system now.

Also, back to the politics, I think Obama’s detachment during 2009 was part of a longer-term plan to establish his bona fides as a post-partisan. The country doesn't blame him for his failure to get GOP votes, and the next two issues, immigration and financial reform, are going to be trickier for the Tea Partiers to oppose.

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