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Health Care PS

March 22, 2010

Featured Article

I’ve been out and about and away from the blog levers for the weekend, hanging out with baby bald eagles in Southern West Virginia. More about that later. But as to health care reform’s passage last night, what I have to say about it was said ably by Steve Benen at Washington Monthly and Paul Krugman at the New York Times today:

THEY PASSED THE DAMN BILL…. There’s a temptation, the morning after an extraordinary event, to try to capture What It All Means with something resembling insight. But when dealing with success on health care reform, and a historic victory a century in the making, where does one begin?

Perhaps with the expectations of Nov. 4, 2008. There was a sense among many when Barack Obama won a sweeping election victory that big things were not only possible, but in fact likely to happen. This was going to be a special time to bring long-overdue change.

But as 2009 progressed, it wasn’t just cynics who started to wonder if change is even possible anymore. Indeed, it was hard to miss an emerging pattern — a progressive idea is proposed, the right reflexively rejects it, corporate interests scare the gullible, the media ignores the substance, th debate becomes overwhelmed by falsehoods and confusion, the public sours, Democrats grow frightened and fractured, and the idea dies. Introduction leads to demagoguery leads to failure. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In this sense, the debate stopped being simply about health care quite a while ago. If the recipe had been written on how to kill anything of significance, then it was easy to suspect that we might never see social reform on a grand scale again. Ever.

And just when it seemed our political system would be limited indefinitely to playing small-ball, something interesting happened. President Obama decided to keep fighting. Speaker Pelosi decided to keep fighting. Americans who elected a Democratic majority decided they weren’t going to be satisfied with failure, and they got to work.

In a result that was hard to even imagine two months ago, they won, delivering the change America needs, and delivering a brutal setback for those who demanded failure. Paul Krugman noted:

This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.

Given fear’s long winning streak, that’s no small feat, especially on a scale so grand. | Read the rest of the post

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