Make True on that Promise

What politician would you guess said this on Saturday, a day before the House voted on health insurance reform:
But you know what? Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow.
Answer and commentary after the jump.

Well, that's probably not too hard, so yes, it is President Obama. The White House blog has a video of the speech and a longer excerpt.

ObamaGood stuff, but my response is: "Where has this Obama been?" Why did it take him this long to say it? (or at least why did it take this long to get through) As far as practical impact, this speech had none. The House votes were counted already. It will only factor into a post-vote PR campaign to sell the bill. Did you catch that? A post-vote PR campaign to sell the bill. The only reason this bizarre effort is even required is that the bill became unpopular before the final vote. Why wasn't it said last year? Why weren't the numerous moral reasons for health insurance reform pounded into the public's consciousness like a Republican talking point?

The answer has probably been speculated on by thousands of bloggers by now, so I can't add anything new (yes, I'm actually using that as a standard for posting). So my point here is this is the type of thing I genuinely expected from Obama, and really the only good reason to support him over Hillary Clinton in the primaries. ("Should have stuck with Hillary" is still the best political funny of the century.) Obama proved during the campaign that he could be forthright, nuanced, and respectful of people's intelligence and maturity. That was during a campaign for president. So I think it was reasonable to expect that he would continue to do so once in the office. Wrong!

I never expected that I would agree with even most of Obama's decisions and tactics. But I absolutely thought that he would be a thoughtful communicator of his positions. That is the biggest disappointment I have about him. That is why I said I'm done with Obama after he floated the budgeting gimmick of freezing some discretionary funding in the next few years. (Guess what was not included in that freeze) This pretty speech might reverse his downward trajectory in my book, but he's got a long way to go to re-earn my respect. I hope he can change for the better.

UPDATE: Greenwald brings me back down to earth:
In other words, this bill was negotiated using the standard, secret, sleazy Beltway lobbyist/industry practices that candidate Obama frequently condemned and vowed to defeat. And these industries extracted such huge benefits as a result of these secret deals -- a bill shaped to their liking and profit objectives -- that they are essentially in favor of it.
Keep hope alive?

UPDATE II: Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) actually grew a pair:
Spokesman for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Jim Manley, released the following statement today regarding Senator McCain’s comment pledging no cooperation from Republicans for the rest of the year:

“For someone who campaigned on ‘Country First’ and claims to take great pride in bipartisanship, it’s absolutely bizarre for Senator McCain to tell the American people he is going to take his ball and go home until the next election. He must be living in some parallel universe because the fact is, with very few exceptions, we’ve gotten very little cooperation from Senate Republicans in recent years.

“At a time when our economy is suffering and we’re fighting two wars, the American people need Senator McCain and his fellow Republicans to start working with us to confront the challenges facing our country—not reiterating their constant opposition to helping working families when they need it most.”
h/t Balloon Juice. Funny picture of Mr. Country First as well.

5 comments:

Troy said...

Outcomes, not process, are what matter. This is a gigantic progressive win. However we got there, we got there, and the people in charge deserve credit.

Leave it to the conservatives to obsess over tone, perception, and style points. Bush excelled at communicating exactly the style and tone that they wanted, and look where it got them.

What makes Greenwald helpful on policy is what makes him a disaster on politics: his refusal to compromise, or to consider anything other than bull-in-the-china-shop tactics. On policy he's invaluable in articulating an unflinchingly liberal worldview -- on politics he's a dead end.

Norwegian Shooter said...

Um, Greenwald was for the bill, compromises and all.

Troy said...

Like I said, he's often right on policy, wrong on politics. Who cares how we got there? Maybe mistakes were made by Obama and it could have passed long ago. Or maybe he wisely held fire until his help was really needed in pushing reform over the finish line. I don't know, you don't know, Greenwald doesn't know, but now that it's passed I can't think of a less relevant topic.

Complaining about the process is like the 16 year old who gets a new car and then whines about having to waste a whole Saturday afternoon at the dealership.

Anonymous said...

My thoughtful response to your blog and your pose is: you're a pussy and a Quisling.

Norwegian Shooter said...

Anon - yes, I do feel an itch all over today, you might be right. As for Quisling, who am I collaborating with?

Troy - Greenwald's point is not about process per se, but policy results. Policy is always skewed towards powerful lobbies' interests. The process will always be like what happened to health insurance reform because corporations with money assert tremendous influence. Policy outcomes that would harm their interests are pipe dreams, they are not within consideration.

In this case specifically, the outcome is mandating purchasing insurance from private corporations (profit-seekers, which is the core problem with health insurance). Insurance companies are very pleased. This policy was mandated by the influence these companies wield. Obama accepted this outcome from the start. That's what it's about.

The context for Greenwald's quote is Ezra Klein's claim: "This year, the Obama administration succeeded at neutralizing every single industry. Pharma supports the bill. ..."

That's ludicrous.