Monday, March 22, 2010

Historic American Moment

You can read the coverage of yesterday's health care decision in Washington in the New York Times or the Washington Post.

But no one wrote it up any clearer or better than the Globe's Konrad Yakabsuki:

The passage by the House of Representatives of Mr. Obama's $940-billion (U.S.) overhaul of the health-care system ranks with the 1935 creation of Social Security and the 1965 advent of Medicare as a milestone that will change the face and character of this country.

Presidents since Harry Truman have aspired to put the United States on the path to universal health insurance for all of its citizens, only to be out-manoeuvred by lobbyists and politicians who exploited Americans' innate suspicion of government to win the day.

That Mr. Obama got farther than all of them – farther than Kennedy, Nixon, Ford or Clinton – assures him of a legacy that only weeks ago seemed in doubt. It also infuses his presidency with a burst of renewed potential to build on.

It is discouraging that this struggle became so ugly, so partisan, so personal.

In the end, the vote hinged on Obama's promise to sign an executive order that would ban federal funding for abortion.

In spite of that, one rabid enthusiast managed to holler out "baby killer" during the debate.

The Republicans - unwilling to consider their nearly 50 million uninsured neighbours - referred to this bill as Obama Care and the vitriol spilled forth both in public and private places.

The cost of health care is double that of other Western nations with considerably less positive results and deliveries of service - unless, of course, you have the loot to pay for the best attention.

The President had moments ago to also abandon any hope of what was being called "the public option."

Americans, with their long-bred - and often admirable and healthy - streaks of individualism and dislike of big government simply cannot see their way to anything that would resemble that health care porgrams that define Canada, France and Great Britain, among others.

This enormous - admittedly flawed - step is a great triumph for citizens.

It is also a huge triumph for the President.

On both scores, I say, "Good on you!"

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