19 December 2009

Preparing for the Sanctimonious Lectures about 'Realism'

Let's get this straight right now. We will hear it repeated in the days and weeks to come - by those shilling for the pathetic excuses for health care reform that have passed in the House & Senate - that we cannot hold out for perfection and must grasp this good legislation while we have the chance.

In the past, we are told by administration spokesmen, "The perfect became the enemy of the good." That is simple bullshit.

In the first place I am not concerned with past political mis-steps. I am concerned with what has happened in the here and now. And that is that the truly venal and opportunistic has become the enemy of the barely adequate. I am concerned with the way the Obama administration has allowed various conservative members of their legislative coalitions extort concession after concession on matters of central importance.

In the second place, we should not be talking about a "public option" as perfection. After all, that was a compromise proposal, a concession. We should not be talking about a medicare buy-in as perfection; after all, that was a concession once compromise had already been struck.

In the third place, we should not be talking about further lining the pockets of insurance companies as 'the good.' There is nothing, to the best of my knowledge, in the current bills that will contain the price gauging of private insurance companies. And we surely should not be talking about selling out protected the constitutional rights of women as anything resembling 'the good.' Let's state a fact: Stupak and Nelson and the Catholic Church have eviscerated the availability of a legally sanctioned medical procedure. When Rahm Emmanuel derided Howard dean this week by stating that, unlike Dean, Joe Lieberman has a vote, he neglected to recall that the Catholic Bishops don't have a vote and the administration has been sitting aside while they dictate national health policy.

So, be prepared for sanctimonious lectures from the "realists" in the Democratic party. But remember, such realists are craven apologists for an astoundingly inept administration and an ineffectual legislative leadership. Even with our 'change-you-can-believe-in' President and an allegedly veto-proof majority in the Congress this is the best we can get?

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Blogger pietro said...

possible memes:

"we can't let the truly venal and opportunistic spoil it for the rest of us 'cuz the barely adequate says its a fucking done deal."

"we can't make let bipartisanship become the enemy of the good."

"we can't let the good scapegoat the better."

"we can't let the feckless and craven vote with Joe Lieberman"

"we cant let the matt yglesias types open their mouths anynore....

how about "we are at those rare moments in history where the radical has to become pragmatic."

i think i need a rest.

20 December, 2009 00:47  
Blogger Public Squalor said...

I agree with your post but do you think this legislation was the result of an inept administration? The bill will further entrench the insurance corporations in the U.S. health care system with the guarantee future profits. Those companies were at the table with the administration from day one. Seems like the pro-corporate Obama is getting pretty much what he wanted all along no?

I think those who support social justice need to disabuse themselves of the notion that Obama is a "progressive". Hopefully policy battles like this will clear the star dust from the eyes of his devotees. (BTW - Please don't infer that I consider you among them! Your blog is clear evidence of that.)

peace and Happy Holidays

20 December, 2009 09:41  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

PubSq ~ Obama simply abdicated. He did not propose legislation, he threw up his hands and said you fellas draw up the bill.

He (and his legislative agents) spent way too much time and effort worrying about making the bill bi-partisan in the face of Republican obstructionism.

And he has not play hard ball with any of the Democratic conservatives (and lets be clear that Ben Nelson is not a "moderate"). The writing ought to have been on the wall to Lieberman - cut the crap or we will boot you from the caucus and pass the bill via reconciliation process (needing only 51 votes).

And all the while Obama and Emmanuel have simply gone along with every extortionate demand made by the religious right.

The so-called public option was a compromise measure that had huge support among voters. And with his majority and mandate Obama let even that inadequate measure circle the bowl.

In what way has the administration been effective on what it calls its top domestic priority?

20 December, 2009 10:40  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

PS: And you, of course, are completely right that Obama is no progressive - despite the rantings of the right and the wishful thinking of the left.

20 December, 2009 10:41  
Blogger eugev44 said...

Politicians in favor of the public option often quote statistics that show majority support among voters for it. What is the ideal system where somebody actually takes that to be more than a mere "fun fact"? Could a truly participatory democracy work in that sense? Just wondering what your thoughts on this are.

20 December, 2009 12:41  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

One need not defend an ideal of participatory democracy to see that a situation in which individual legislators (say, Nelson or Lieberman) are extorting concession after concession driving the final bill further and further from the preferences of the median voter. How about getting rid of the filibuster? How about playing hard ball and actually taking the path of reconciliation, thereby subverting the veto power of the conservatives?

I just read a piece in the NY TIMES that described "corporate glee" at the Senate bill.

20 December, 2009 14:22  

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