Obama Address Congress on Healthcare – Can He Still Win?

President Obama goes for all the marbles next today when he addresses a joint session of Congress of healthcare reform.

Last week I posted this opinion, but as nothing much has changed on the issue, and tonight is the big night, I decided to re-post and gather some more of your comments!

At this point, he might as well swing for the fences. Changing the nation’s healthcare system for the better is, like it or not, the defining issue of his presidency. Polls indicate the nation isn’t all that happy with the way he’s handled things thus far, but the game isn’t over yet. I’m using a few sports metaphors on purpose here. That’s because for the president’s opposition, healthcare has become a high stakes game of chicken.

President Barack Obama on Healthcare reform
President Barack Obama on Healthcare reform

Look for a moment at the duplicity of Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley. For months now, Grassley has been dangling the hope of bipartisan compromise on reform. He is, after all, the ranking Republican member of the Finance Committee, and part of the “Gang of Six” that were in talks to get something done. He’d even been to the White House three times to meet with the president. Then came August, and the rancorous town hall meetings across the country. Grassley’s commitment to bipartisanship seems to have ended right there. Compare for yourself.

Grassley in April: “Health care not only is 16% of the gross national product, but it touches the quality of life of every household as few others do. I’m doing everything I can to make the reform effort in Congress a bipartisan one.”

Grassley in an August fund raising letter: “The simple truth is that I am and always have been opposed to the Obama Administration’s plans to nationalize health care. Period.”

So much for playing nice. And now it looks like Obama has at least in part learned his lesson. Instead of negotiating with Grassley, he’s talking to Maine’s Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, probably a better choice to begin with. And it looks like he’ll press forward with his vision of healthcare reform not just to members of Congress, but to the American people as well. This makes sense, since recent polls say most folks in fact support a public option as part of reform.

It may not be the single payer, universal plan that I personally favor, but it’s better than the status quo some lawmakers are advocating. And of course, when you look at where some of these people get their campaign contributions from, the real reason for their opposition becomes clear.

What exactly the president will say to Congress is anybody’s guess, since we’re just under a week away from the address. If he asked my opinion (and he hasn’t), I’d say it’s time for one of those inspirational speeches like the ones he gave so well during the campaign. You can win this battle, Mr. President. Just don’t make this speech a mind numbing recitation of statistics and numbers. Bring fire, Barack Obama! The stakes are high.

What do you think. Can President Obama still win the healthcare reform battle?

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One thought on “Obama Address Congress on Healthcare – Can He Still Win?”

  1. Yes he can!

    (wow, I hope that doesn’t sound to retro from campaign)

    He needs to channel Adam Clayton Powell, Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt (those great arbiters of change in the face of extreme opposition)

    His take on Chicago politics isn’t working and dare I say didn’t have a chance (super bowl parties at the white house?!?!)

    The danger of vanity is real, and a leader’s mettle is tested in challenges like this.

    The choice:

    A) Do I govern left of center and steer this country in a manner that benefits from the bottom up? (The Change I sold to earn the mandate I received in the 2008 election) or,

    B) Do I govern right of center and win the popularity contest I’m competing in against right wing radicals for the media’s adoration? (Bill Clinton and 2012 considerations)

    There’s a real danger for this young President, as compromise to the special interests will yield the political capital he earned in the elections.

    Here’s what he must do; He must appeal to those who lived and made the greatest sacrifice, his grandparents and those like him. Those who can be counted among the greatest generation are the key surrogates to change the course of the public discussion.

    Reminding them of the sacrifices they made and how their country requires the boomer generation to take their turn at making a sacrifice for the greater good of this country.

    They knew what it was like live with war in the headlines daily while struggling to achieve consistent economic recovery from the Great Depression.

    Leverage their experience and let that speak in the response to the debate, while reminding those elected that it’s their turn to sacrifice as well.

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