In his Weekly Address, President Obama follows up on his Wednesday night speech before Congress on his plan for health care reform. The Treasury Department has released a report indicating that nearly half of Americans under the age of 65 will lose their health insurance in the next 10 years. Americans in the “bridge years” requiring special health screenings and little surgical procedures should take note.
It was a big week for President Obama on the speaker circuit. Tuesday, was the “Back to school” message at Wakefield High School in Arlington encouraging students to take personal responsibility, do their best, and emphasized the benefits of hard work and persistence. There was a time when every school opened the new year with this message from either the principal or an inspirational and motivational member of our community. One Wakefield teacher described the moment as “magical.”
THE HEALTHCARE SPEECH
Wednesday, it was off to the U.S. Capitol to set the record straight in a special joint session of Congress on health insurance reform. Even I’ll admit, it’s been a mixed bag message with 5 bills floating between the House and Senate, giving too much breathing room for rumors and out right lies to eclipse the purpose and true need for reform. And in these days of “infotainment,” there’s nothing the ratings news likes more than the big nut case picture show.
Obama ended his speech with remarks taken from a posthumous letter written to him by the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Here is an excerpt:
There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.
But even the contents of the posthumous letter were dropped in less than 24 hours as the ratings media had found a new political reality show star.
South Carolina steals the show yet again when Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled out “You Lie!” as the President spoke about the reform not granting health care benefits to illegal immigrants. [“Immigration” is that fire in the back room. Some of us are just beginning to smell smoke while others are already yelling “Fire!”] The truth – no health care package in the reform bill for illegal immigrants.
I’m not going to dump on SC but since Wilson inserted himself into the speech, I have to call out bad behavior (and he wasn’t the only one, just the loudest). This was the first time in my nerdy politic watching life that I’ve ever heard a member of Congress yell out during a Presiential address. My vote is for Wilson to address the Congress with an apology as the outburst, as VP Joe Biden said “demeaned the Institution.” It was also out of order. Check the rules. This wasn’t a debate with the President.
Apparently, Wilson’s 2010 Democratic challenger Rob Miller has topped $1 million in donations since Wednesday. Wilson’s supporters are coming to his rescue with apology gifts. He’s now over $700,000. Before throwing money at people, I think it wise to know who they are. Joe Wilson has now come off the back bench and is getting plenty publicity; Rob Miller has a campaign website. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
TEA BAGGER 9/12 DEMONSTRATION AT THE CAPITOL
I wonder if Wednesday was just a warm up act on Rep. Wilson’s part, because today the anti-reform, anti-big government, anti-tax, anti-anti folks were having a tea party demonstration on the south lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The Washington Post reports tens of thousands of them. Well, guess what? This blogger was there! so I can give you the scoop.
My family and I joined a small coalition consisting of pro-health care reform supporters. The sign I held read “People of Faith for Health Care Reform”. Yeah, we got heckled, people took our pictures with the cell phone cameras, but I would say their taunts were nothing compared to my junior high school classmates.
Lots of flag carrying, of course, flag jackets, flag signs and signs reading “Obama the Czar of Healthcare” or something else. I don’t know a lot about Russian history, but what I do know is that the Czar of Russia was deposed and executed during the 1917 Russian Revolution ultimately leading to the formation of the Communist state known then as the USSR. So if Obama is “the Czar,” who are the “real Communists” in this scenario?
In terms of numbers, conservative lawmakers will be encouraged by what the Washington Post reports. But what you won’t read is the demographic make up. I would estimate that 99.5% of the crowd was caucasian or white. I counted maybe 7 persons of color other than white. 95 percent were over the age of 40. Median age, maybe 51 – 54 – the bridge years. Makes an interesting picture. Read what you want into it. I’m just sayin’.
I had a chat with one of the marchers who decided to start a conversation. Our dialogue was civil, but rallies and marches are not the places to change hearts and minds. For me, these encounters are for information gathering, and it’s always interesting to find where you fall on the same page. What I don’t find acceptable are attitudes of “I got mine, what’s wrong with you or these people” and starting each sentence with “I’m afraid.” Decisions made from fear often than not turn out to be bad and disastrous decisions, and are usually misinformed decisions. Our marcher insisted reform means “govenrment takeover” and she likes the broken system we already have with private insurance administrators — not doctors — calling the shots. She compared our healthcare to car insurance. You use it when you have an accident. Use the clinic (if you have one) for all the other stuff and pay. “Well, I’m not a car,” I said. Cars can also be replaced.
One piece of information I will take away is that our marcher doesn’t like being called a “tea bagger” and she informed us that their meetings look nothing like what we’ve seen on television. Here’s where we fall on the same page. We both agree, television news is not helping any of us with their “infotainment” angles. So I’m happy to oblige and not name call.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR WALTER CRONKITE
In his remarks at a memorial service for former CBS Evening New anchor Walter Cronkite held at Lincoln Center in NYC Wednesday afternoon, President Obama said,
And too often, we fill that void with instant commentary and celebrity gossip and the softer stories that Walter disdained, rather than the hard news and investigative journalism he championed. “What happened today?” is replaced with “Who won today?” The public debate cheapens. The public trust falters.
And I’ll let the President have the last word.