So those of us hoping for health care reform will be listening to the big speech tonight. (I'll be trying to listen on a car radio while driving to the mountains -- yeah! -- and may have to catch up later.) The talking heads say there is a lot riding on it.
That wonderful writer Anne Lamott, whose schtick is being a decent Everywoman, caught the mood of the President's supporters last week:
Much of the punditocracy smirks at Obama supporters' naivete -- why they actually believe a politician; how sweet! There is something peculiarly morally foul about mocking innocent hope -- the in-crowd is stinking from its own decay these days.
Ed Kilgore is a realistic Democratic party operative with a decent side. He has tried to put the speech in reasonable perspective:
Okay -- that sounds more like what we can expect.
The most vociferous of us are being softened up to accept "the good" and to give up our attachment to "the perfect," again. The message of the week is that the Dems have to give something to Republican Olympia Snowe and some conservatives in their own party. So we can't have a public option plan that cuts out the insurance profiteers from some small fraction of their captive business, but we might be allowed "triggers" that would start a public plan if the insurers failed to perform. We the untrusting think that's a sell-out. Untrusting seems a reasonable posture to me.
What I continue to wonder, awaiting the President's inauguration of the autumn push for reform, is why smart observers seem so confident that whatever we do get will be good for Democrats? If they make everyone buy insurance but don't control insurance company greed, they are just to going to have a lot of pissed off people who perceive themselves as being forced to shell out for something they can't afford to use. If the much talked about subsidies don't really offset the costs, more pissed off people. And none of this looks like cost control -- nothing to ease the administrative burden that comes from having some many different insurance scams to track, nothing to limit profiteering by those medical entities that thrive on driving up payments to themselves.
And apparently whatever they do won't really kick in until 2013. That is, the Dems are putting us through the trauma of an incomplete, probably feeble, partial redesign of health care -- but don't dare run on people's experience of it until after the next Presidential election cycle. That could backfire. Supposing something passes and nothing happens -- will people start asking "where's my health care reform?" I can imagine that. They are currently asking "where's my stimulus?"
President Obama -- you've got a big task. You do great political theater. But when it comes to health care, we're all of necessity part of the cast; none of us can be just the audience this time.