Whether or not the health care debate has really degenerated to a brawl, which is certainly the impression that NBC was creating through their coverage last night, it is clear that all the contention is no longer about who gets medical coverage and how. The Republicans see this as an opportunity to do unto Barack Obama what they did unto Bill Clinton, and they are clever enough to realize that new times call for new tactics. Unfortunately, those tactics may prevail over Obama's greatest asset, which is his ability to treat his constituents as adults who will respond to straight talk and, after due reflection, do the right thing. Once again Peanuts has captured reality with the classical battle between Lucy and Linus. The Republicans know that Lucy always wins. So they embrace her motto: "He was beginning to make sense, so I hit him."
This is not to suggest that Democrats hit back with the same base tactics, but someone has to show some muscle in the interest of health care reform. That muscle has been shown by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who continue to hang tough on achieving change that will make a difference while Democratic leadership continues to pursue debilitating compromises. In this case, however, the path of compromise is that of the man walking down the middle of a congested highway, who will eventually get hit by trucks barrelling down in both directions. The Progressives know the needs of the folks on Main Street, and they have studied the problem hard enough to come up with some viable ideas about what will work. Since they continue to be marginalized by both Congressional leadership and the mass media, Main Street has heard little of what they have been saying except for the Republican tactic of turning sound ideas into objects of ridicule. Are the Progressives really too shy of resources to overcome both hate-based Republicans and compromise-impeded Democrats with that spirit of "Common Sense" that inspired the creation of this county? The word must get to Main Street that this is not the time to lay down and die, because that is what may well happen to Main Steet if the single-payer option for health care remains concealed from its awareness.