Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Taking Off (at least) One Glove

At the very least President Barack Obama seems to have recognized that the Republican idea of a public debate over health care is little more than the rhetorical equivalent of bare-knuckle fighting. As Philip Elliott put it in his Associated Press account of Obama's remarks to "a town hall-style meeting in Portsmouth, N.H.," the President has resumed his role as "fact-checker-in-chief." This is definitely a step in the right direction. The Republicans are, once again, using the fear-and-hate-mongering tactics of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf as a playbook; and that playbook has been serving them well. However, as a campaigner Obama demonstrated a compelling gift for clearing the air of rhetorical noise and getting back to delivering the signal. Of course Elliott made it clear that he was exercising that gift before a sympathetic audience last night, but there is nothing wrong with getting your chops back into shape before taking on more hostile encounters.

However, this raises a more important question: If Obama can do it, why can't the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus? They are the ones who realize that Obama has brought out his best rhetorical tactics for an objective that is a far cry from half a loaf's worth of health care reform. They are the ones most in need of the serious reform that a single-payer system would provide. On Sunday I suggested that the problem may be a lack of resources, but is that really why it is so hard to hear the Progressive voices? Perhaps the Progressives need to review how Candidate Obama first got on the country's radar and start studying his playbook as assiduously as the Republican's have been studying Hitler's!

No comments: