In a classic case of what the gods giveth, the gods taketh away – you find yourself at a defining moment in a budding administration. Ancients (Greeks, Romans, etc) believed the gods have such a sick and twisted sense of humor, it befuddles the mortal mind. Now, looking at recent events, how can one possibly disprove that!
Almost two years ago, you were anointed Heir to Camelot by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who rescued your campaign when all others were afraid to touch you with a ten-foot pole for fear of reprisals by the Clintons. The man had only one life-long dream – universal health-care.
And as If the gods were listening, they gave you an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The world was yours for the taking. But after a year in which all you achieved domestically was nothing, the gods took away your cushion in the Senate since you found no use for it. On the anniversary of your inauguration, the senate seat vacated by the late Kennedy, in the bluest of states, was given to a Republican whose only ambition in life is to stop your health-care reform. If the corpse of Kennedy has been slowly decaying in his grave, his disgust for your sluggishness in leading to this mishap would have accelerated his decay.
But of course, to square this solely on your shoulders would be unfair. If yours was truly a rookie mistake, what excuses have the veterans that surround you? Fingers particularly directed at Vice-President Joe Biden, Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Senior Adviser David Axelrod. But oh wait! Wasn’t Rahm supposed to be this tough guy who allegedly sent a dead fish to a legislator as a warning in some lifetime before this? Whatever happened to the tough “Jewish Boy” persona we were made to believe when he was appointed?
Look at the administration that preceded you. George W. Bush didn’t have the luxury you had, but today, you are a witness to his accomplishments. The gang of Vice-President Dick Cheney, his Chief-of-Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Senior Adviser Karl Rove, ran such a tight ship that it practically ran over anyone and everyone that opposed the president’s agenda. Hate it or love it – Mr. Bush got his tax cuts and many other things that were dear to him.
Equally useless and ineffective has been your point-man across the street – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The senator will do you a great service if he does not survive his re-election bid in Nevada this November. Democrats in the Senate have been intolerably undisciplined and the failure of Mr. Reid, and even yourself, to bring them to order is largely responsible for the debacle you now face in passing health-care reform.
Ever heard of “The Hammer?” That was the nickname given to former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who ensured and guaranteed party discipline when it came to passing the legislative agenda of President George W. Bush. But your darling Mr. Reid has been a far cry from this kind of persona: one can aptly nickname him “The Marshmallow” and not be considered rude.
And for the senators who continue to be unmanageable, I have a solution for you. You call them privately and hear their demands; if their demands are unreasonable or exorbitant, you ask them to reconsider while placing them on the clock. And if they still refuse once the clock expires, call them out in front of the American people. Put their names in the national press as being against a populist agenda – to which you were elected.
Whatever you do now, you have to move ahead with health-care reform. You cannot scale it back or pass it in bits as I have heard you suggest. Your convictions are what will determine your legacy. You were elected on a populist theme; you touted “Change we can believe in.” So far, all we have seen is “Same we don’t believe in.” Abraham Lincoln was never able to convince a large number of Americans on the savagery of slavery, it took a civil war to find a righteous peace. When Martin Luther King, Jr. decided to involve young children in the civil rights struggle, friends and civil rights leaders shouted it was the wrong thing to do. But today, we know those images of children being hauled to jail, beaten by policemen, and bitten by dogs awoke the conscience of a nation.
You must stand your ground and be aggressive, Mr. President. If Democrats must go down this year, they should go down fighting and not with their tails between their legs. If you so prove otherwise, Americans would have made a grand error in judgment electing you as a leader in these turbulent times.