YES JOE BIDEN: IT IS A BIG “FLIPPIN” DEAL
It’s obvious that Vice-president Joe Biden has become the Yogi Berra of US politics. After all, Joe has dropped so many “verbal classics”, that today he is to US politics what Yogi is to US baseball: one of a kind. Joe Biden is obviously a man inebriated by the many excesses (and successes) of his own verbosity; and yet you can’t help but like “Uncle Joe”: he is both eccentric and “real”.
I remember writing -a couple years aback- that Joe had destroyed whatever little chance he had of becoming the democrat’s presidential nominee, when he said that Barack Obama was “clean” (as blacks go). He said this very early in the contest; and yet, by some strange twist of fate, he ended up on the ticket as the vice-presidential nominee. What a country! What a game! As I always say: politics is the only game in town.
Joe Biden has been one of the more likable members of Congress. He is witty, self-deprecating, unpretentious and warm. He comes over as a regular guy despite his keen intelligence, and formidable knowledge on most contemporary political issues -especially in the area(s) of foreign policy. So last week Tuesday, when he semi-whispered (to Obama) that the health reform bill which President Obama has signed into law was a “big fucking deal”, I don’t think too many of us were surprised: were we?
After all: it is a very big “flippin” deal. And if anyone was publicly audacious enough to openly express these sentiments with expletives, then that someone would surely be Joe Biden.
This health reform bill (as flawed as it is) is a very big “flippin” deal. And now we hear that even President Obama agrees with Biden’s not-for-prime-time statement. (Biden, upon hearing this, told Obama: “why didn’t you just say so then”). Joe and Barack may have different styles but they obviously enjoy a kinship.
This is a big deal because it took more than half a century to pull off. It’s a big deal because many presidents (of both parties), failed to even get to second base on reforming the health-care system.
The more I read of the bill, the more I like it. There are many important and positive changes to the US health-care system coming with this bill (once the time lines are met), that will eventually make it a popular one -after it is tweaked a bit later on.
Remember this: the bill introducing the social-security system wasn’t popular on inception; neither was civil rights legislation. The critics on the right are dramatizing the potential downsides for political effect and little else: the present health-care system was badly in need of modification and every sane person knew that.
Because of the former system, start-up costs for small businesses in the USA, was exponentially higher than anywhere else in the developed world. Plus Medicaid and Medicare costs have been on a runaway train for quite some time now. Some state budgets have been severely impacted (negatively) by these costs. It was a question of competitiveness as much as common sense, decency and morality. The insensitive Republicans have never wanted to modify the present system. Their actions throughout this debate were rather disingenuous once fully examined. Congressman Anthony Wiener was correct to call them “wholly-owned subsidiaries of the health-insurance companies”.
The Republicans seem to always come out on the wrong side of legislative history lately. They were on the wrong side of Civil Rights legislation, Social Security legislation, Affirmative Action (except for Nixon), the Family Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Gay Rights, the New Deal, Voting Rights and also the Great Society initiative. They have become a party of “angry old white people" (mainly men) adrenalized by fear. Fear that the demographics of this country are leaving them behind. Fear that the new majority (at mid-century) may want to extract reprisals for Caucasian abuses over the centuries. And even here they are incorrect: minorities in the USA just want to be respected, included, and afforded equal opportunities, relative to the profound decisions being made by ‘mostly’ male Caucasians; which impact on everybody’s everyday lives -and with far reaching international implications.
Back to the bill itself: what has been missing in the post-analysis is the fact that Barack Obama has proven for the umpteenth time, that he is a very very shrewd politician: PERIOD.
By capitulating on his support for the “public option”, he essentially eliminated the core of the argument from the right: that it was a government takeover of the health-insurance industry. On the contrary, the insurance companies came out quite well: potentially they have picked up over thirty million new customers, who are now mandated to acquire coverage. Imagine the gumption of these insurance companies in spending millions to defeat this bill. Imagine that during a recession they are still raking in billions in obscene profits. Imagine they are now deemed by fiat, a whole new demographic to cultivate.
Since I was a leftist-teenager, I have felt that one day we will all have to modify capitalism to the point where we have wages, prices and profit(s) controls. It’s inevitable. Even as I grow older (and more moderate) I see this as something that must be implemented: the sooner the better.
Back to the public option: even Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe) has missed the nuance in this deft move of Obama’s. Joe totally misses the point, as he beats this to a pulp -morning after morning on his TV shows. Sometimes Morning Joe talks too much crap for a prominent political journalist. After the democrats retain their hold on Congress next November, MSNBC should fire him: given that he has predicted over and again, that this bill will cause Dems to lose one or both houses of congress. He is so wrong about that, it isn’t even funny. Time will tell: as it always does in politics and predictions.
Look; this was such a skillful maneuver that most pundits missed it. The public option was troublesome at this point in time and would have undermined Obama’s ability to get this bill through congress. It will be revisited down the road no doubt; but for now it was dispensable. I predict that someday within the next ten years (after the insurance companies mess up again), we will see a public option created for those who may so choose to not go with the greedy private insurance companies.
Look; the political pundits who kept saying that this bill was dead, and that rigor-mortis was setting in, have been wrong more times than Gatemouth and Wonk (combined) on Room Eight New York Politics over the past four years. And it is not the first time that Obama has gone way over their head. Do you remember the pre-escalation days that led up to the current Afghanistan military initiative? Well, the pundits were predicting all kinds of problems for Barack, no matter what his decision was going to be -once the military generals had requested a new troop build-up. While the president was contemplating his decisions, the pundits were all over him for what they claim was his “deliberateness” and/ or “procrastination”. Even Sarah Palin later commented that we don’t need a law professor from Chicago telling us what to do (as our president); and we know that she cannot comprehend the importance of having someone as thoughtful and cerebral as Obama in the Oval Office: especially in a post 9-11 world.
Had any other president escalated this military action in Afghanistan like Barack did, he would have seen millions of protesters, marching on streets all over the world; but not Obama. By forcing the generals to retreat from an open-ended military action, Obama put a semi-definitive ending to this Afghan occupation. Not a single notable protest was registered anywhere: some accomplishment that ostensibly went unnoticed.
I have said this before: Barack Obama has the potential to be a great president. He is half-white and half-black (a bigger deal than most people are aware); he is articulate; he has charisma; he is likable; he is a very bright and educated individual; he is humorous yet serious; he is “clean” -a la Biden; he has unquestionable family values: he is a good husband and father; plus he is as handsome as they come (ladies!). The contemporary challenges facing him are probably more acute than those faced by many a president coming before; and this is not debatable: these are rather serious times, with some rather unique challenges. All he has to do is rise up to meet these challenges half-way, and he will be acclaimed a great statesman. He is well on the way, despite deliberate Republican obstructionism.
Stay tuned-in folks.
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