Some Good News on Health Care

Is Obama starting to lead?

I sure hope Jonathan Cohn and Steve Benen are right about this.  It seems as if the President’s summit on health care reform is beginning to push the House-Senate talks into something approaching middle gear, and it is also putting Republicans into a box: if they have a plan, they have to make it clear and have everyone rip it apart for its inevitable idiocy, and if they don’t have a plan, then everyone will see that, too.

Even if the House and Senate aren’t together, yet, Cohn sees some positive signs that Obama is beginning to take the reins.

Follow Mark and Andy and Harold on this.  Call you Representative and Senator tomorrow and tell them to Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

Mr. President, if you want this, we’ve got your back.  Now fight.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

9 thoughts on “Some Good News on Health Care”

  1. I'm reminded of that great scene in "Stage Beauty" where the character played by Clair Danes tells Billy Crudup's character that Othello (as it had been portrayed to that point) was hokey because, in the crescendo scene,"A woman would FIGHT" (rather than submitting meekly to be murdered).

    I sure hope Hopey's got as much sac as Clair. Hasn't shown it so far.

  2. I don't know. I guess I've never understood the idea of "cheerleader-in-chief". I'm suspicious that what people are really saying when they complain that Obama isn't being "tough enough" is that they are angry that what they want isn't happening, but because accepting that the causes are complex (voter ignorance, ideology, lobbying, punditry, electoral politics, etc.) just isn't very emotionally satisfying, they take the intellectually lazy approach of finger pointing.

    I could very well be wrong. Maybe there are some really good points to be made as to what exactly Obama could have done to get the needed representative & senate votes. But I haven't heard any.

    Incoherent fear and anger in politics is nothing new – what would the Tea Party movement be without it? But it seems like the immature child to democracy's wise parent. There are real problems, but pretending they have easy solutions seems nothing but a distraction.

  3. "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

  4. Eli,

    It is important to me to see him fight. The realities of politics will always rear its ugly head and water down or potentially destroy any attempted progress, but I value very much to see the politicians I vote for fight for what they said they would. I, for one, am not blaming the policy outcome on Obama, I'm blaming his half-hearted actions on him.

  5. Err, I should add, that I think that to some degree the policy outcome can be effected by the president. To what degree varies but I think that his lack of action makes him worthy of some blame in the mess that the health care "debate" has become. So I guess the last sentence of the above is only sort-of true, rather than absolutely.

    If I read you correctly, you are right that there are great many fish to fry, most of them larger than Obama.

  6. Finn, it would be silly for me to pretend that Obama is blameless in this. But I haven't really heard any definitive examples of what he could have done differently, and how it would have changed the process. A lot of things could have gone a lot of different ways. On NPR tonight (KCRW, can't remember the program) a few commenters all had their own take on what Obama had done wrong: his "Chicago" advisers were a bad fit for Washington; giving too much control to Pelosi meant the bill was destined to be too liberal out of committee; the intellectual, post-partisan soft-sell, humble thing was ill-conceived; they just don't understand how angry and hurting Americans are.

    All of that could be perfectly true. Or not! It just seems like a lot of "just-so" stories.

    Which brings me to Bux. I think if any one person should be blamed, it should be Roger Ailes. Only because the real problem seems to be the relatively small but influential population of conservatives who listen to the talk-radio talking points, by the insanity and work themselves into a froth. These people then talk to their much less interested or "informed" but more electorally substantial friends, family and co-workers, who indeed feel pissed off and scared, but don't have any political narrative until they pick it up from their seemingly-informed associates.

    I think this cycle of craziness has really blindsided Washington democrats, and Obama. I mean, how do you even begin to respond to the kind of shit that Bux just posted? I stopped counting the right-wing nut memes a long time ago. But they keep coming. And as long as the economy sucks, the great ignorant masses of Americans will keep buying what they always do – nice, neat little stories that feed their anger, fear and resentment. The sad truth is that the hugely complicated capitalist machine broke the fuck down, and everybody wants an easy finger to point. The average American can't parse Keynes & Hayek, supply-side, monetary vs. fiscal, etc. Its so much easier to just say "Obama is a fool!"

    Look – I think Obama needs to really start kicking ass. But I won't hold it against him that he has been exactly what I voted for: an intelligent, reasonable, honorable and humble public servant. I still probably agree with him on just about everything, and I understand why so much of what he would like to have done has had to have been winnowed down to something the conservative democrats will vote for. But now we're back into political tactics and horseracing. And that's a fool's errand as far as I'm concerned. In most cases, I think he actually has been kicking ass. But, let's face it, the president still only has one foot.

  7. Ways to motivate reluctant politicians:

    1. Campaign for them.

    2. Campaign against them.

    3. Have friendly politicians who have been rewarded punish reluctant politicians. (I'll come and campaing for you if you make sure his earmark fails.)

    4. Kick Joe Lieberman out of the caucus.

    5. Encourage primary opposition either surreptitiously or out in the open.

    6. Make non-negotiable demands of legislation that either hurt or help those politicians. Use the veto to enforce.

    7. Direct federal agencies to pay attention to or ignore politician.

    8. Threaten exposure of secrets.

  8. Eli, your first comment reflects my thoughts pretty accurately. I'll further say that the smug and self-serving snark coming from some progressives is ugly, disheartening, and certainly unhelpful.

    Finn, Mr. Obama has again and again, on the campaign trail, in news conferences, in speeches before congress, etc, etc, articulately laid out his vision for HCR. In addition, WH staff has been on the hill daily since his election working to make this happen. Do want him to talk mean and dirty, and do you really think that would be effective?

    Bux, it's not clear what universe you live in–given that Mr. Obama is arguably the best combination of smarts, decency, courage and vision this country has ever elected, you surely can't be implying that Conservatives have EVER had one in their ranks who approaches his qualities–but thanks for the laugh, anyway.

  9. It never ceases to amaze me how life is all such a matter of perspective acorvid, since I have the same reaction to your reaction to my comments. What the hell planet are you living on? Have you seen the Obama poll numbers (including the new CNN poll)? Your worship and adoration of Obama is hillarious. Ditto on the thank-you for the laughs.

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