Friday, March 12, 2010
Health care debate epitomizes American identity
Well, here we are.
I'd say the health care debate is now entering its endgame, but that term, "endgame," has been used so many times over the last 10 months as to be meaningless. Be that as it may, there is a possibility that a deal is being struck that would involve the House of Representatives voting to pass the health care bill that the Senate passed late last year, to be followed up with another bill passed through reconciliation that would amend the bill to make it better conform with the desires of Democrats in the lower body. Convoluted and complex and agonizing.
Public option still alive?
The most surprising development as I see it is that , according to the Huffington Post, the "public option" still has a fighting chance to survive. Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, has stated that he will "aggressively whip" any bill that comes to the Senate for reconciliation, even if that bill includes a "public option!" Did you hear that, Nancy Pelosi?
This is big news given that Oregon's own freshman senator, Jeff Merkley, and Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, have circulated a letter expressing support for the public option. The effort started way back in the fall of 2009 with a mere 6 senators expressing support. Now that letter has garnered the signatures of 41 senators. (Time to get on board, Senator Wyden!)
At this point, anyone who might try to predict how things will turn out risks looking like a jackass when all is said and done, and that includes Senator Harry Reid and President Barack Obama. But the thought of a health care reform bill that includes a public option being passed into law is incredible.
Apart from it being good, sound public policy that would mortally wound the blood-sucking corporate vampires that are for-profit health care insurance providers, such a bill would be priceless for the humiliation and repudiation it would afford petulant brats like Stinky Joe Lieberman, and pasty white bigots like Mitch McConnell.
Lord, for that alone, please let it be so!
Health care debate: This is America
Regardless of how it all comes down, the health care debate has provided me with an abject lesson on the nature of these United States.
For all the squalor and ugliness, the bigoted reasoning, the impassioned, irrational screaming and shouting, the ignorance, the futility, the frustration and the corruption, this debate is an authentic illustration of America. We are a diverse nation, populated with countless interests, governed as much or more by prejudice and mistrust than virtue or idealism. I've said it before, and I'll say it now: There is no contempt like self-contempt. And I point to the health care debate as prima facie evidence.
Americans have very little sense of civic duty or the Common Good. On the political right, narrowly-defined self-interest as put forth by conservative patron saint Ronnie Raygun is the only pure motive, the only real virtue. On the political left, condescension and contempt are the only responses to ignorance and stupidity.
Given the degree of antipathy we have toward one another, that we refer to ourselves as the "United States" is an hypocrisy of the highest order. (I am not united with creatures like Texas Governor Rick Perry or troglodyte Senator James Inhofe or demented clown Glenn Beck. Perish the thought!)
I applaud President Obama's stubborn insistence to see this health care debate through to the end. It takes an uncommon degree of wisdom to understand that it is needed, even if it leads to the political destruction of his party or even his presidency.
But it sure has made me realize just how little regard I have for some of my fellow citizens.
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