Sunday, December 20, 2009

President Obama Fails To Reduce Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Since Climate Summit!

The lefty naysayers on health-care reform seem to have quieted down a bit, perhaps in contemplation of Sarah Palin's triumphal tweet or perhaps placated by the extra 10% John Boehner will have to pay to maintain his complexion.

But we have another chorus of upset that President Obama isn't behaving sufficiently like a superhero. Neil Gabler would like to see more passion. Steve Clemons would like to see more fight. Or we could kvetch about deadlines.

But we had passion and fight in the Bush administration. And, for all Steve's concern about women's health issues, isn't fighting a male trope?

I continue to believe that Obama is working s a community organizer: get the people working together. A "strong" leader, one who anathematizes the opposition, who fights for the right, who is passionate about his policies, seems to me to be the opposite of what we need now. Quiet persistence is more like it, and that is what we're seeing from Obama.

Health care reform is the biggest social change since the Great Society reforms of the 1960s. And it's going to pass, battered, bruised, imperfect, but it's going to pass. We've been fixing up those Great Society reforms, and we'll continue to fix health care.

Obama also seems to have changed the conversation in Copenhagen. Andrew Light sees his last-minute negotiation as moving from developed countries versus underdeveloped countries to the big carbon emitters versus everyone else. Additionally, there is an agreement with China on measurement, reporting, and verification.

Neither of these results is everything we might have wanted. But change is not easy. If you believe, as I do, that it must start at the margins, then these two achievements are much more than might have been expected.

Here's an indicator: Evan Bayh, not the most lefty of Democrats, said that
the health care measure was the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on, according to officials who attended the session, and that he did not want to see the satisfied looks on the faces of Republican leaders if they succeeded in blocking the measure.
That's another good point: this is what Congress is supposed to do. If we can convince Congress of that, we might see less of the grandstanding, pork, and other malfunctions of our legislature.

We have had thirty years in the United States of a conversation slanted toward anti-science, unrestricted markets, and individual greed. It will take time to turn that around. But we're seeing the first signs of change.

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