Friday, August 21, 2009

Tahoe Ticker Column 10 – The Scorpion and the President

President Obama has been in office exactly seven months. During that time he's accomplished a lot, particularly in terms of the stimulus program and the economy is clearly turning around.

But in his campaign Obama was very strong on health care reform, and basically bet on a "daily double" of the economy and health care. No one is quite sure why, but he seems to be faltering on the latter. Common sense to the contrary, the President and his advisors seem underestimated the ability of the Republican Right/Health Insurance/Big Pharma alliance to play dirty. Now we have the same folks who swift-boated John Kerry and who tried to sell the country that Obama is not a citizen trying to ensure that there is no reform.

And make no mistake: the issue is not the public option, or "death panels," or illegal aliens – it's reform itself. Not all Republicans, not all health insurance companies, and not all pharmaceutical companies are against all reform, but enough are, and they have enough money, that they are very close to owning the debate. As happened with Clinton, if Obama loses ownership of the debate, he loses the issue, and that would be tragic.

If you spend any time at all in the Middle East, you'll hear this story: a frog and a scorpion are escaping a grass fire. They come to a river, and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across. The frog demurs, saying he's afraid the scorpion will sting him, but the scorpion points out that if he does that, they'll both die, so the frog agrees. Sure enough, halfway across the scorpion stings the frog and as they both go down the frog asks why. "It's my nature" replies the scorpion.

The point of that parable in this context is that the Left is very close to sharing responsibility with the Right for killing reform. We are starting to hear how disappointed they are, how it's the public option or nothing, and how Obama is proving to be "just another politician." And when they sting Obama, we'll all go down and they will say "it's our nature."

I am 100% for the public option, but I would rather have reform without it than no reform. A number of other countries have instituted universal access without a public option. I don't know if the "pools" is the right option, but nothing shuts down useful debate – debate that can come up with solutions that no one could have thought of before – like a "my way or the highway" approach.

My point is, give the guy a chance. You elected him because he made big, bold promises and he is clearly committed to keeping them. He's as far from "just a politician" as it gets, and he's learning that politics is an art of persuasion, collaboration, and, yes, compromise. With any luck he'll be in office for 96 months. It's been 7. Let's not sting the guy who could carry us to a better shore just because he's not doing it the way we think he should. It's not about the swim, it's about the shore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The reaction to Pres Obama speech to kids had very little to do with the speech itself and encouraging children. The issues were what teachers were instructed to do after the speech
The controversy stems first from how "political" it is to have a president interject himself into every classroom in America as a directive from the White House without any parent input. Turn the tables and ask yourself: If George Bush had done this what would people say? Don't you think there would be a HUGE outcry from people claiming indoctrination, etc? Classrooms are NOT the the place for politics. His speech appears to be more about "getting in front of kids" than really laying groundwork for success. Furthermore, the word PARENT appears only once in the "lesson plan".

Read here what is said to discuss before the speech:

• Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor,
senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?
Where is the mention of PARENTS????? Or even teachers?
This alone gives me great pause. It is unprecedented that a president do this. If it is going to be done, then the POTUS should at least realize the importance of parents & teachers.
It has been said this speech is about education. The follow up questions here do not reflect how teachers & parents play a role in children's lives rather what the PRESIDENT wants them to do, how HIS SPEECH inspired them, if kids feel they are capable of doing what HE ASKS, and what would they like to share with the PRESIDENT.

Read here:

After the Speech
• Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes, or place
notes on a butcher‐paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, such as
citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty.
• Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
What do you think the president wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What would you like to tell the president?

Here is the link for complete menu for the lesson plan.

Children should be left out of politics. Families & teachers play the most important role in kids lives, NOT THE PRESIDENT. I find it extremely self serving of this administration to "reach out" to kids like this. Politics is ALWAYS ABOUT AN AGENDA. If someone thinks otherwise, they are being fooled. There are always political reasons for a president to be in front of the public. School children should just simply be left out of this. They can watch it at home with their parents not in school.