Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Dennis Kucinich: the Man of the Hour
Well, well, well...
Ain't it funny how things change? With the fate of President Obama's health care reform efforts (and, in fact, the fate of his presidency) hanging in the balance, guess who is all of a sudden back on the political radar. That's right: the champion of progressives nationwide, a man of integrity, and my first choice for president in the 2008 election, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich.
Yesterday, the President graciously invited Representative Kucinich aboard Air Force One for a short hop up to Cleveland where the President held a rally in support of the health care reform package now before the House of Representatives. One must imagine that there was some rather vigorous arm-twisting during that flight. After all, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi need every single vote they can get if they're going to pass the bill through the House and onto the President's desk. And Representative Kucinich voted against a version of the bill that passed the House late last year, protesting that it didn't go far enough.
But whatever carrot-and-stick combination President Obama employed, it didn't work. Representative Kucinich who, in addition to representing Ohio's 10th Congressional District, is the nominal head of the progressive (or liberal, if you prefer) wing of the Democratic Party has announced that he will vote "nay" on the legislation.
As a progressive, I find this moment delicious. After getting the back-of-the-hand treatment from the President and from Stinky Joe and Ben and from the Democratic leadership in both houses of Congress, progressives find them all creeping back, hats in hands, because they need something. All of a sudden, progressives matter again.
So, Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, as you flounder around and try to salvage your political careers, I'd just like to remind you about how flippant and dismissive you were when progressives raised their concerns early on in the debate. Remember how you took a single-payer solution off the table right at the start? Remember how Rahm Emanuel referred to us as "f*cking retarded?" Remember how you, Mr. President, couldn't even muster lukewarm support for the public option, which you claimed to support during the 2008 presidential campaign?
I can't say I hope you fail. I hate the Grand Old Party so much that anything that is perceived as a victory for them is bad, by definition. So, go ahead and continue your arm-twisting and groveling. But, maybe you should go suck up to all those Blue Dogs and conservative Democrats that you treated so royally. Get them to do your bidding.
Representative Kucinich is doing an admirable job of representing me in this debate. If he says "nay," well, I say "nay" as well.
Good luck, Mr. President. If you get through this, maybe you'll remember next time.
Update: Apparently, President Obama is a better arm-twister than I imagined. Representative Kucinich announced on Wednesday morning that he will, in fact, vote "yea" on the health care bill. Well, since I do trust Representative Kucinich, I am willing to extend my support as well. So, let's get this health care bill passed, and then improve it with reconciliation. If the Senate betrays us... well, at least the masks will be removed.