Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Obama's address on health care reform; a solid triple to deep center

Overall, it wasn't quite an unequivocal endorsement of a strong public option (hence, not a home run),but it was really good*.

*Actually, I thought this speech a solid double, but the line "it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition" rates an extra base, with a wide turn at third. :)

Excerpts of the speech are posted here.

A full transcript is here.

Some of the highlights included a definite tone of not kissing the insurance industry's a** and not caving into the "scare tactics" of their lapdogs (my word, not his :) )in the GOP.

Yet, as firm as he was in his message about making sure that that all Americans are able to find affordable and effective health insurance coverage, the President offered a couple of olive branches to the GOPers -

Consideration of mandating that everyone obtain coverage

Creation of an insurance exchange that would allow private insurers to compete for new customers (OK, so competition isn't exactly what the GOP and the insurers were looking beats being put out of business.)

A discussion and experimentation with medical malpractice reform (this one brought forth the only standing ovation from the Republicans; for the rest of the speech, they sat on their hands...well, all of them except Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina. More on that in a moment.)

Continuing the baseball metaphor that starts this post, now it is up to Congress.

The past few weeks have been the equivalent of the seventh inning stretch, and tonight's speech was a case of Barack Obama leading off the bottom of the seventh with a clutch lead-off triple.

Now he's standing on third, waiting for the Democrats in Congress to drive him in.

A few days ago, I wrote how it was time for President Obama to step up. He did so tonight.

Now it is time for Congress to step up too.

We know it won't be Sen. Max Baucus, he's the equivalent of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox in this metaphor (except instead of taking money from gamblers to throw the World Series, he's taken campaign contributions from the health insurance industry in exchange for going into the tank on this).

It might be Speaker Nancy Pelosi (maybe - she's been making some of the right noises recently).

It might be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (less likely I think, but still in the realm of possibility).

It could be someone from deep in the backbenches like CD5's Harry Mitchell, grabbing a bat and stepping into the batter's box like Kirk Gibson did in the 1988 World Series.

*Somebody* will step up.

...And that somebody will have to be a Democrat. Rep. Wilson's behavior during the speech demonstrated exactly how much contempt that the Republicans have for civil discourse in modern politics and modern society.

During the speech, when President Obama pledged that the proposed reforms would not provide insurance coverage for illegal immigrants, Wilson, perhaps thinking that he was among teabaggers at one of this summer's town halls, shouted "You lie!"

Not even during the worst depredations of the Bush Administration when most Democrats and many independents called for impeachments and criminal investigations and more, did a member of Congress show so much disrespect for the office of the President and the institution of Congress.

Wilson later issued an apology for the timing of his outburst (apparently the boos and dirty looks, some even from members of his own party, reminded him of his place), but stopped short of either retracting the statement or providing evidence that the President did, in fact, lie.

Expect more of the same, though perhaps in a more genteel manner, in the coming weeks.

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