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President Obama’s Health Care Address to Congress

As the camera scanned the attendants all I could think about as they schmoozed and shook hands and all pretended to be the best of friends, was that the majority of these people have nothing of my interests in their hearts. Some genuinely wish to do good and their service to this country is all too often overshadowed by the grime and grit of politics. But these representatives wake up every day and see none of the realities of normal life in their own. Many of these people have good intentions—as they know them to be good—but in fact do the whole of the country a great disservice. And they’re all just having the best time together!

All our representatives at the event have already made up their mind. They know where their party stands, or in the case of the Democrats where their splinter cells carefully positions themselves. What the president has to say will not be considered fairly. It doesn’t matter how true and stark the truth; ears and minds have already been sealed up with fine expensive wax. Even when issues of honest importance rise to become the centerpiece of the nation’s attention nothing truly good will ever come to pass from such speeches. No matter how eloquent.

He is not the first president to take up this cause, but he is determined to be the last. Invoking Roosevelt, Obama started out laying a history of health care “reform” through the generations on the table. It was a good strategy to detail the non-existent progress of health care from the dawn of the industrial age to today. Giving color to the plight of the tens of millions of uninsured Americans, he remarked how we are the only major country in the world that lets this go on without even an afterthought. He mapped out how our current insurance system costs so much it actually cripples every other segment of the economy. It’s true, if you get people to think of cost you have their attention. He flatly laid out how or current system is hurting everyone. Vocalizing the deficiencies of our current system and how it already does the wretched things Town Hallers fear was probably his one last attempt at appealing to reason; that some reform, any reform has to happen.

He tried very early on to make it seem as though both sides are trying to solve the same problem from different viewpoints. Whether or not that is true, it made for good rhetoric. Promising us that support is actually coming from all sides and all interests probably isn’t as true as he made it sound, but even if it were the more likely reform is to come, in any form, the greater the likelihood of soft underbellies threatening progress out of fear for sharp, pointy retribution. His roaring call for bipartisanship was vintage Obama, but while the work being done may in fact be coming from many contributors, votes still come down to red versus blue.

Stating the basics of the plan was necessary. He had to get down to the definitions and specifics because there is so much misinformation about the fundamentals of the topic that no conversation can even begin. Enlightening people of the major reforms being proposed other than the public option—which is the only thing anyone talks about—was a good idea. For example, the changes that would ensure existing coverage get better; no dropped coverage, no being run around and out of town by bureaucrats. Clarifying that this plan is not a “take over” of the current system was critical. Making it clear that all the public option does is make it so that those who cannot get insurance through their employers, or lack there of, have a safety net waiting for them. Unless you’ve had no income for an extended period of time you do not know what it is like to worry yourself sick over getting sick. He made the public option out to be what it is, a wider safety net than currently exists.

One moment of clarity came when he showed that, assuming total affordable coverage for every American, people who choose not to have insurance are actually a contributing factor to everyone else’s rising costs. By not being insured you have to pay for that individual’s emergency room visits and uninsured treatment. He stressed that if everyone helps each other then everyone is being looked out for.

He said plainly that prominent politicians as well as the media are spreading outright, irresponsible lies to do nothing but stop reform at all costs. I actually could not believe he would say it so clearly, but he did. And the largest applause yet came at this moment. He debunked the death panels, free insurance for immigrants notion, and other lies, with force and conviction. And then some animal in the crowd screamed “lie!” His stress that the only real opposition to these plans is brewed from a mixture of lies, politics, and greed, while not expressed in such a way, seemed understood.

As he picked apart the industrial machines that are our current health care providers I couldn’t believe that he, the president of the United States, was basically calling the Health Care Corporations thieving, stinking mongrels. This was his strongest moment. It spoke clearly too every American that is being screwed by these detestable monsters, even if they don’t know it. He explained how adding a public option to the current pool of health care options is the essence of capitalism. He said plainly that he is open to various versions of a public plan but that he will not pass any plan that does not ensure every American has coverage.

His direct assault on those who contributed to the mess the country is in was stunning. He actually said that the country is in the state it is partly because of the Iraq war and giving tax breaks to the rich. For the first time in my life I saw a president say something that was stripped down, honest, and true.

He was particularly clear on all the harsh truths about how this battle is being waged. It is a shame most people probably didn’t watch it and a percentage of those who did didn’t like what the president said because he’s a Kenyan Muslim Socialist who wants to kill grandma. He was speaking to congress but he addressed the entire country. If you listened to this speech and still come away believing the same lies then you are a conspiracy theorist and the rest of us would kindly like you not to vote.

President Obama’s speech was everything it could have been. Invoking an image of health care as a moral imperative was just gravy. There is nothing he could have said to those who will vote against him to change their minds. Those people have already chosen sides. But if he somehow managed to grab hold of the national brain stem and shake some sense into it then he was successful. It’s a shame emotion and feelings motivate voters but cold hard cash money is the only thing that motivates our representatives.

Posted by Michael Falino at September 9, 2009 9:50 PM