In 1964, Lyndon Johnson used JFK’s assassination to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a JFK initiative that had stalled in congress because of the resistance of a group of southern Democrats.
No one thinks Obama possesses any of the legislative skills or the art of persuasion LBJ had. If he did, we wouldn’t have seen polls that went from 72% in favor of reform and a public option, to 43%. That is a direct result of Republican lies and attacks and Obama’s total ineffectiveness in dealing with them.
But Kennedy’s death could change that.
The media and Republicans keep referring to reform as “Obama’s health care plan”. Obama has no health care plan and never did. Health care reform has been a Democratic party initiative for 16 years and the standard bearer had been Ted Kennedy.
At the Democratic convention Kennedy said that “health care for all is a right not a privilege”
In ten short words Kennedy defined health care reform and its moral imperative more succinctly, more to the point, with greater clarity and more power than every word that Obama has spoken on the subject in every speech or town hall meeting since he took office. Which has been part of the problem.
Just about everyone agrees Obama has failed to clearly define reform and its purpose. Not only to the public but even to congress. The reason is that Obama has no core conviction when it comes to health care reform and it shows as with his recent attempt to throw up the white flag on the public option, something the Democratic congress quickly snatched out of his hands.
Obama had stated clearly on a number of occasions that he favored the single payer universal plan in which the government would be he single payer. He also acknowledged that would be too radical a change to implement and that’s a fair assessment. But its also why the public option is a must as the centerpeice of reform to function side by side with private insurance. But as recently as his radio address on August 22 Obama said ” some folks are afraid of a government take over of health care. That scares me too”.
It didn’t scare him when he was in the Illinois Senate when he advocated just that, and it didn’t scare him when the debate began and he said he’d favor a single payer plan if possible but would work with reforming the system that was in place.
Obama may be admitting something scares him but its not a single payer plan.
Kennedy’s death might do more for getting health care and the public option passed than all of Obama’s speeches and wavering. It could rally Democrats in the Senate who have been holding out on the public option, and pressure the so called Blue Dogs who have made deficit reduction more important than necessary regarding health care reform to come around.
If Obama would simply commit to it, and use Kennedy’s legacy as a rallying point to get it done, putting the Blue Dogs in a corner politically and if Obama would use Kennedy’s own words instead of his own to define the purpose of reform and the public option, it could be smooth sailing on health care reform.