Obama For President: Like We've Got Any Other Choice
Well, it's official. Barack Obama is going to run for a second term. It seems like only months since I was arguing against the nightmarish possibility of Sarah "Russians Out My Back Porch" Palin sitting one fragile heartbeat from the nuclear trigger. Now I find myself wondering if the country would have been much worse off if Old Man McCain had been at the helm.
Look at the promises of the Obama campaign and look at the results of his first term to date. A pillar of the Obama presidency was going to be the reform of health care that Bill Clinton dangled before us in 1996 and was summarily snatched away by a spineless Congress and venal lobbyists. Those of us in the progressive wing dreamed of a single payer national health care system like Britain's or Canada's. If we thought we heard Obama actually promising such a system, someone must have spiked our Kool-Aid with something stronger than the stuff the future president admitted to smoking back in his youth.
The president did put something he called "the public option" on the table, but when the Republicans threatened the inevitable filibuster, the president and the Democrats, who at that point had an insurmountable majority in both houses, inexplicably folded like some scared gambler who stupidly came to the conclusion that four aces could, after all, be topped by a royal flush. So someone floated the idea of "Medicare for all", which sounded like a reasonable solution, since Medicare has worked pretty well for seniors for the last half century or so. But that was going to cost too much, so the Dems and the pres folded again, returning with the compromise plan of lowering the age for Medicare coverage from 66 to 55. Same result.
The process dragged on for months, with the president and his troops in the Senate and the House failing to realize that they actually had the power to force the reform measure through, capitulating time and time again to the obstructionist Republicans and their obscenely wealthy backers in the health insurance lobby. When the smoke finally cleared, we got the first of Obama's tepid compromises, a bill that mandated that everyone buy health insurance and prohibited insurers from denying it to those who were sick or who had ever been sick. It was better than nothing…barely…but a year later it looks like even this half-assed attempt at health reform may be dismantled and destroyed before it benefits anyone.Continued on the next page