#79 – Dick Bernard: President Obama speaks to the nation on Health Care

Since anyone and everyone is predicting what Pres. Obama will say tonight, and what he means by what he says, I have my right to my own opinion, which is, I would say, as informed (and uninformed) as that of anyone else.  
I am deliberately posting this before Obama’s speech, rather than after.
As time has gone on, I am more and more of the opinion that what is happening now in the debate on Health Care Reform is very similar to what happened as the tide turned against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s early 1970s.  There came a tipping point in that conflict when public opinion turned against the war.  Nixon won a landslide victory in 1972; by 1975 the last frantic refugees lifted off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon; Nixon was already history.  The turn started earlier, but reached a crescendo quite rapidly.  The end wasn’t perfect, and the future wasn’t either, but for certain, change began to occur.  The past began to end…and lasted till we got mired in our next war – Iraq/Afghanistan.
If I’m correct, the current divisive atmosphere is a very good omen for the beginning of long term and very substantive change.  The Health Care Reform debate is being waged in the Congress, but far more importantly, it is being waged in the public square.  By no means is Health Care Reform “dead on arrival”; nor will it get stuck in cement after the first round of legislation is passed this fall.  
(On August 31, I was among those senior citizens who spent some time in the DFL (Democratic party) booth at the Minnesota State Fair.  I have done this before.  This time we were concerned about being attacked by irate people, to the extent that we had a training session before hand.  The training was a waste of time.  If anything, the people were more polite and serious minded than in previous similar events.  Sen. Al Franken was very politely received.  The people, I think, get it.)
I am not particularly concerned about what finally ends up in this first Health Care Reform bill.  There never was, and there will likely never be, a massive sea change in the general attitude of the body politic. So many of us, and so much of our economy, is wrapped up in the business of medicine that it would be unrealistic that revolutionary change would occur (though I think such a change would ultimately be for the betterment of all of us.  Who would miss those endless television ads for this or that pharmaceutical or treatment – the true cost of “competition”.)
A friend predicted earlier today that Obama would throw the progressives “off the bus” tonight.  
I am certain that, whatever he says, he will be interpreted as having gone too far, or not far enough, or this, or that, or the other.   Whether he throws progressives off the bus or not is going to be strictly an item of interpretation by the viewer, and we will have an opportunity to hear and see lots of comments about what it all means afterwards.  I will take every comment with a grain of salt, particularly if it comes from someone with a particular vested interest in the outcome of the debate.
Personally, I hope the advocates for revolutionary change prepare themselves for some realistic response, and rather than saying “we were sold out”, treat whatever positive changes which end up being made as the positive changes that they are, and then redouble their efforts for more and better changes down the road.
The debate is being waged, and we can thank the President of the United States for this.  
If we want “change we can believe in”, we now have an opportunity to help make it happen, one small and difficult step at a time.
To those tempted to throw the President “off the bus”, I don’t wish you well.