As the health care debate progressed over the course of the last year, many of us on the left found ourselves deeply concerned about how the process was going. I can’t say that I got everything that I wanted to see in the legislation that has passed, namely the public option, but I’m pleased with its successful passage.
There was a lot of discussion about what exactly Obama was doing, and at the times when things looked bleak for, not only the legislation, but for the Obama presidency as a whole, there was a question, a hope really, that came up frequently. “Obama may be playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers.” Now that the legislation has passed, I find myself thinking that this is exactly what was going on, but not in a way that anyone suggested.
In the 2009 Economic Address (State of the Union in any other year.), Obama put health care reform on the table and insisted that it needed to be passed in 2009 because 2010 was an election year, and nothing would get done. Well, Obama suggested deadlines passed time and again and before we knew it, it was 2010 and health care reform was still on the table.
All this time, Obama had been spending his political capital, clearly putting his presidency on the line. It seems to have paid off. It is an election year. Obama has won a huge legislative victory over a GOP that threw literally everything in their arsenal at him. Now, he’s shown that he can govern. He’s achieved his primary legislative objective, and he’s shown that he is able to fight to accomplish his goals. This is huge going into an election season. I find myself wondering if his plea for the process to not drag into the mid-term election year is similar to Brer Rabbit’s plea to be thrown anywhere but into the briar patch, knowing that’s exactly where he would end up.