Thursday, March 11, 2010

Obama's Engagement: It's About Time

Take a look at this photo. When was the last time we saw President Obama so engaged? His recent appearances on behalf of health care are reminiscent of the election campaign:

In a high-octane appearance that harked back to his “yes we can” campaign days, Mr. Obama jettisoned the professorial demeanor that has cloaked many of his public pronouncements on the issue, instead making an emotional pitch for public support as he tries to push the legislation through a final series of votes in Congress in the next several weeks.

With the fate of his signature initiative on the line, and Republicans eager to portray Democrats as out of step with the country and incapable of governing, Mr. Obama seemed to relish the opportunity to cut loose and make his case on his terms, as he often has at pivotal moments.

And, with his back to the wall, the president appeared intent on reassuring his party that he was as confident as ever in his powers to explain, persuade and capture the politics of the moment.

...Boiling down his proposal to a few sentences, Mr. Obama asked, “How many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable? How many people would like to give Americans the same insurance choices that members of Congress get? And how many would like a proposal that brings down costs for everyone? That’s our proposal.”

Now that it's do-or-die with health care, President Obama is asking the right questions, speaking with passion and naming names. But why did he wait until his back was against the wall? Why did he often seem so disengaged during the health care debate? Why didn't he fight harder for the public option or come out swinging against the outrages of the health care industry?

Many of us who like this president and want him to succeed–this writer included–hope that this is only the beginning of more passion and fight. Let him carry these qualities into other battles, including financial reform and consumer protection.


mjmand said...

It sure is nice to see a rejuvenated spirit in our president; I, too, am eager for him to succeed. I am also a huge supporter of health care reform, but unlike Paul Krugman, whom you site in an earlier post, I'm not so sure that half a good bill is better than none. I'd rather wait for the right bill which, for me consists of one sentence fragment - "Medicare for everyone." This reform bill consists of somewhere between 2000 and 3000 pages if I am not mistaken and, frankly, I don't know what's in it. Nancy Pelosi said that we must pass this bill to find out what's in it. I don't think that that comment came out as she had originally planned because it really makes no sense. If someone could give me a Reader's Digest version perhaps I could support the bill with more passion than I do now. Why can't we just figure out a way to cover everyone? Driving is a privilege, health care is a right.

Jeff Tone said...

I too would rather have had Medicare for all; however, look how hard it's been to just get to this point. If this bill manages to cover millions more and ends the pre-existing conditions and caps on health care nonsense, I think it will be worth it. Remember, Ted Kennedy regretted not accepting the compromise on health care that Nixon offered him.