Wednesday, July 22, 2009

That Can’t Do Spirit


Nancy Pelosi gets the message!

Good for her. Figures when you need some "can-do" around the place you gotta look to a woman.


This is where I wonder what happened to the whole American can-do spirit, that “we can do it” attitude that Americans like to think we are famous for. Because right now, especially on the healthcare issue, all I’m hearing is a bunch of “nope, can’t be done” from Congress, and it's got some of us wondering if we've just gotten all soft and lazy.

And I have to say, it’s really distressing to hear this from those “Blue Dog” Democrats. I call these folks DINOs, not because they are “Democrats In Name Only” but because they are dinosaurs, fossils from a political landscape that hasn’t existed in this country in 10 years or more.

If the Blue Dogs didn’t learn the lessons of 2006 and 2008, let me remind them: Americans didn’t just vote for change. There has been a wave of populism sweeping the country, on both right and left. People are rebelling against the status quo, against the entrenched corporate and political power structure that they feel has held the reins for too long, with damn little to show for it. On the right, it’s brought us tea parties, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. On the left, it sent Barack Obama to the White House. The point is: we're tired of sending people to Washington to see nothing happen. You've got a job to do, and you'd better get cracking.

In today’s WaPo, Harold Meyerson gets it right:
Centrist Democrats' opposition to health reform verges on the incoherent. A caucus (the Blue Dogs) formed ostensibly to promote balanced budgets now disapproves of the proposed taxes that would cover the expenses of the new programs. The congressional centrists say, commendably, that they want to squeeze more economies out of the system, but they oppose giving more power to an agency that would set the payment scales for physicians.


The Republican opposition to President Obama's push for health-care reform, on the other hand, makes clear political sense. If they can stop Obama on health care, as South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint recently noted, it "will be his Waterloo." Why Democrats of any ideology want to cripple their own president in his first year in office, and for seeking an objective that has been a stated goal of their party since the Truman administration, is a more mysterious matter.

Indeed it is. As I blogged yesterday, we’ve waited long enough for some kind of national healthcare policy in this country. I can get Republicans being the party of “no” where this is concerned, but Democrats? What the hell? Don’t tell me we can’t get it done. We’re America, we can do anything, right?

But this disturbing turn of events speaks to larger issues at play. Writes Meyerson:

But the big picture here, of which the resistance to reforming health care is just one element, is our growing inability to meet our national challenges.

Meyerson likens it to our inability to respond to Hurricane Katrina. Is the failed response to Katrina “the new normal in America,” he wonders?

I hope not, but I’m starting to wonder, too. I started worrying about this when I first heard criticism of President Obama for “trying to do too much,” as if our country isn’t in a deep mess on all fronts, as if we didn’t need to roll up our sleeves, loosen our ties, burn the midnight oil, etc. and get some shit done around here.

Bill Press makes a good point on the healthcare debate in Congress:

They’ve got it backwards. The goal should not be to get it done before leaving for a month’s vacation. The goal should to get it done, period. Before anybody even thinks about leaving for vacation.

And if it works out that Congress doesn’t get a month’s vacation this summer, or even a week’s vacation, so be it. Delivering universal healthcare legislation is more important.

Amen to that.

Hey Congress: I don’t give a shit about your August vacation. If you have to stay in Washington, D.C. through the dregs of August and give up your cushy golf vacations paid for by BlueCross/BlueShield, well boo fucking hoo.

There are some pressing issues in this country. You folks need to get to work. If you can’t work it out, then you shouldn’t have your job to begin with.