The irrefutable argument is the ultimate weapon.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 @ 2:11 am | Barack Obama, Health Care, Politics

Democrats have perpetually failed by being afraid to use their best arguments forcefully, so as to club their enemies about the head, neck and chest area and turn those ideas into real, valuable, pragmatic policies.

President Barack Obama is, so far, the master of political rope-a-dope. Time and time again he has let his opponents unleash their full fury on him. He has stumbled, looked weak, spoken with frustration, and perpetually exasperated his supporters. He keeps this going until people start to throw up their hands and say, “Damn, I think he got licked this time.”

Before tonight’s speech, we were undoubtedly reliving this experience. “Hope-less,” reads the Newsweek cartoon. Joe Klein declared the public option dead. Iowa Liberal seethed at his weakness.

And yet, he has done it again. No, we’re not done yet, but he has in a single masterstroke gained the upper hand.

With tonight’s speech, Obama wrapped the moral argument for health care reform around the pragmatic argument, utterly destroying and erasing every scrap of noise Republicans have made about reform. He sealed the case that he approached the GOP in good faith, leaving it doubtless that such was not returned. He reaffirmed the public option as a compromise, an option already standing in the center between the left and right, yet one that can be incredibly effective. He soothed people’s real fears about health care, revealing the cartoonish buffoonery of the GOP scare campaign. Already out of gas, the “death panel” panic was itself put to death. “Health care for illegals!” was also snuffed out, strangled with the moronic cry of Rep. Joe Wilson, who has already apologized for yelling, “You lie.” Besides being incredibly rude and uncouth, he himself was lying. Obama was right. And so they flail.

Health care reform is now within our reach. There is more work to do, but Obama just filled the left’s tank with rocket fuel. Once again, people can believe he’ll fight on this issue, and rally behind him with less fear of being left out in the open. He has afforded his followers the right to be known as champions of what is right and good.

To those liberals still critical of Obama (*nudging Thomas Tallis*), keep in mind that this post is about health care. It’s not every issue, it’s one issue. Yet it is a momentous issue, one of the most important issues of the past sixty years. President after president has tried to make headway on this, at best winning incremental steps like Medicare and Medicaid. Yet all the time, the system kept warping into something dangerous to Americans, draining their wealth and leaving them for dead. The success of health care reform will signal a monument in our nation’s history, one that will forever have Obama’s name attached to it.

Best of all, its completion in his first year gives us three (well, everybody knows it’s seven) more years to ride his back about the other things we must do in order to truly point the country in a new direction. Ending our Middle East wars, restoring Constitutional rights, returning regulation to Wall Street, charting a path out of deficit, and creating a green economy will fill up the rest of Obama’s time easily, not to mention the inevitable future contingencies.

Make no mistake, however, this time right now must be focused, and nobody who calls themselves Democrat, left, liberal, progressive, or simply a concerned American citizen focused on doing what is right for our country can be idle or distracted with those other issues. Health care owns this time, and it will not be over until it is done. Now is the time to get out of the car and push, ’cause ain’t nobody giving us a free ride.


31 Responses to “The irrefutable argument is the ultimate weapon.”

  1. Thomas Tallis Says:

    the main thing I took from the speech was the noxious “no federal funding for abortion” pandering – reminded me what huge sellouts Democrats are when it comes to the woman’s right to choose one particular aspect of health care, but hey, that’s just me.

    totally applaud your passion & commitment jb don’t get me wrong, do your thing & all love. but as soon as O said that bit I tuned out – Democrats who won’t stand up for the hard-won right of women to choose get no support from me, and yes, that includes not pretending that somehow in this aspect of health care we have to craft some make-the-crazies-happy exception, and no, whether that’d cost our President precious poll numbers isn’t of interest to me. some things are bedrock; Obama is willing to “compromise” on pretty much all of them so far, and to suggest that any bigger picture that doesn’t take into account a century of struggle to win the right to choose isn’t a bigger picture I’ll be gettin’ behind.

    How’d I do for stayin’ on topic? 🙂

  2. Thomas Tallis Says:

    (strike “to suggest that” from penultimate sentence for vastly improved sense-makin’)

  3. jeromy Says:

    As usual, Thomas, your comments provide an admirable compass for what is morally right, and sacrifice absolutely every scrap of pragmatic sensibility. You would sink the ship for the lack of a few life vests.

    We’re supposed to hamstring this thing now, in order to stand up for federally funded abortions?

    I believe in a woman’s right to choose every bit as much as you, but I’m not going to ruin something that could save the lives of millions of Americans and make millions more healthier simply to guarantee that abortions are not just legal, but free.

    Federally funded abortions means no public option at all, ever, period. So where do you stand?

  4. Thomas Tallis Says:

    short answer is “I’ve had just about enough pragmatism from this dude & from this president to last me a lifetime”

    how many crazy right-wing talking points do we have to actually cede ground to before we actually stand on principle once in a while? I’m not into the principle of “oh, hey, a bill that vaguely resembles the one we wanted got through.” abortion’s settled law. absolutely happy to not get a bill through without federal funding for family planning. period. it is a moot point for me though. between this & guantanamo & warrantless wiretapping & about a dozen other things, there is no way I’m ever voting for a democrat again, or supporting their policies. the last eight months have pushed me permanently into third-party land.

  5. Thomas Tallis Says:

    sorry, again, “from this party & this president” will read better

  6. Descent Says:

    I didn’t know that government funded abortions was the point of all of this.

  7. turquoise peanut Says:

    Deary me:

    Someone in the comments actually said “Joe Wilson for President.” Super! I’m sure he already has the Tourette Syndrome community behind him.

    And TT, I am also very much pro-choice. But surely you have agree that this hot button would be enough to kill the entire bill and that is unacceptable.

  8. Thomas Tallis Says:

    for one thing, by focusing on abortion, you’re ceding the debate. the right opposes all federal funding for any family planning services: contraception; rape counseling; treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. the list is longer than that, but can be grouped using the following rubric: if it involves women’s autonomy, the religious right is against it. “abortion” isn’t the issue itself; it’s just the hot-button. this is amply documented; read Kathryn Joyce on the Quiverfull movement to understand what the stated & open goals of the abortion debate really are all about.

    for me, passionate about health care, an incomplete picture is worse than none at all. how many more bones will we throw the nutballs? end-of-life care, can’t talk about that, the crazies will revolt. drug counseling, rehabilitative services, oh hell no, no way, the crazies’ll say we’re being soft on crime, can’t have that. preventative care, that’ll get thrown out early on, doctors’ lobby hates it because there’s less money in it. thanks but no thanks to driving through a bill whose sole remaining virtue after kissing every ass to walk past it is “well, hey, the guy who proposed the bill has a big ol’ D next to his name.”

  9. Descent Says:

    for me, passionate about health care, an incomplete picture is worse than none at all.

    Which is the plan of a boy. Going all in on every hand that you’re dealt may appeal to your self sense of valor but it’s no way to establish a foundation from which to build. And lets be honest. You’re going to denigrate whatever bill comes out regardless of its content because self-righteous finger-wagging is your game. It just so happens that is also the easiest path to take.

  10. Thomas Tallis Says:

    yup, any you’re just going to rah-rah any toothless plan that can save a vote or two for the all-important reelection. your resort to ad-hom proves me right on this one; you know very well that the president’s going to sell out your values, so you circle your wagons. I don’t care whether Obama gets reelected or not; the “small gains” you guys keep claiming are the strategy are no gains at all. if the issue were voting rights, you’d be arguing for a half-vote for some people instead of “look, it’s the vote or nothing.” that’s the Democratic style: focus on winning elections, compromise all principles once in power, demonize anybody who calls you out on it.

  11. jeromy Says:

    Yikes, Descent just cornholed TT.

    And while he is one of our beloved, and we like having him blog here, Mike and I created this site out of a unified theory: liberalism is a byproduct of a realist vision, not a hindrance.

    Right now TT is plainly willing to sabotage health care reform over pet issues, issues that don’t even threaten their existence…he just wants federal funding to go to these things.

    To me, these issues are mostly Bush-era byproducts and most beyond abortion can be easily corrected in time. I would encourage money for rape counseling, e.g., right now. I don’t know why it can’t be done right now, honestly.

    But it’s deadly important to me that previous condition discrimination end, that healthcare bankruptcies end, and that everybody has access to affordable healthcare. These things really matter, and their weight is measured in lives.

    And accomplishing this will mean success for the Democrats, sustained victories and momentum in 2010, and increased liberalism in the USA. That’s the world where TT can get more of what he wants.

    The world he’s actually acting to create, however, is one where none of us get anything we want, except that he feels better about his personal virtues. Third parties? Thomas, you might as well go piss in a can and call it holy water. Why bother with politics at all if you’re going to not only be completely useless, but work against your own causes?

    The place to fight is in the primaries. Once it’s Democrat vs. Republican and you decline to fight, you’re just electing Republicans, at a time when they are at their absolute worst.

  12. jeromy Says:

    And let’s remind ourselves that TT supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and if you think the health care bill that she would have rolled out, IF she did one at all, would be anywhere near as satisfying as this one, you would be sorely, sorely mistaken.

  13. Thomas Tallis Says:

    As you know, I supported HRC on purely symbolic grounds; she’d be as awful as Obama presently is, as I made very clear during the primaries, again & again. Democrats are not liberal. They are not even left of center. Worldwide, they are the most miserable excuse for a left-leaning party we can really imagine. At some point, you have to actually have a principle stronger than “not as bad as the other guy,” and besides, “the two party system” is a notion you’ve been sold by the two parties; Teddy Roosevelt won his second term on a third-party ticket. Is it really your opinion that, now that we’ve got Democrats and Republicans, we’ve reached the ideal political state? You’re aware, right, that all around the world, they laugh at us for accepting this sorry state of affairs…right?

    Obama in fall of ’08 was my first ever vote for one of the two major parties of this age; given his unwillingness to prosecute anybody for torture, stand up for reproductive rights, support for the right to privacy, etc etc & let’s make no mistake there will be more etc to add to the list., he will also be my last. Fool me once! etc.

  14. Descent Says:

    Whose ideals, Thomas?  Mine or yours?  Sorry to have to break it to you but you’re not the only person in the room.  You may be constantly disappointed with the Democratic Party but why should anybody care?  You’re not interested in doing any of the work because being able to say “I told you so” is more important and unless you’re some teenage malcontent reading “The Stranger” for the first time it’s not exactly a particularly daring or original position to take is it?  And then when somebody calls you out on your tedium you fall into fits claiming that because I find your constant refrain juvenile it actually proves you are correct.  Congratulations Tallis, you’ve staked out a position where your complacency is forever commendable and justified.   

  15. Group2012 Says:

    Obama lied during his joint Congressional session speech and Wilson called him out on it.

    ObamaCare will NOT prevent illegal aliens from receiving *free* taxpayer funded healthcare.

    Obama lied. Wilson told the truth.

  16. jeromy Says:

    Wow, that’s some slippery lying there yourself, buddy. The plan does not offer any care for illegals, period.

    Currently, illegals can get emergency care treatment. Obama made no claims about stopping this. And no Republican will ever pass such a thing. How come you guys didn’t stop it when you had the WH and Congress?

    Why is it the GOP has such a problem with intelligence and honesty? You guys not only can’t get anything right, it’s like you’re trying to get it wrong.

  17. Descent Says:

    You sound pretty convinced of that.

  18. Descent Says:

    Jeromy> @ 2012

  19. mike g Says:

    Isn’t there some phoney birth certificate you should be waving around, 2012?

  20. jeromy Says:

    And back to TT, if you’re still reading, the point you’re losing on is the claim that Hillary Clinton would have somehow been “just as bad.”

    It is simply inconceivable to me that she would have gotten anywhere near this far on healthcare reform. The drama would have been all about Hillarycare II, instead of the specifics of the bill, and the bill we’d be looking at wouldn’t be near as extensive.

    We’re looking at Obama about to close this deal here, and he deserves credit for that. You’re not being fair-minded here, and your all-or-nothing approach makes one wonder why you bother with politics. The Republicans waged an antagonistic, incremental approach for decades and came a long way towards fashioning the nation in their mold (to our ruin). Liberals who sit around torpedoing efforts to take nine steps forward because we aren’t going ten are sitting ducks in the face of such an approach. You’ll have everything taken from you except your righteousness, except the price everybody else will have to pay shall render you unrighteous.

    Get off the train if you think you can, but the earth moves beneath you. Anything not won today is simply tomorrow’s challenge.

  21. homer Says:

    TT I hate to be the history troll here but Roosevelt won his only presidential election in 1904 as a republican. Same year that the socialists, populists, and loborists fielded candidates, before they all merged with the democrats and relabeled themselves liberals. TR ran as a progessive in 1912 as a third party candidate (came in second) which handed the election to Wilson.

    Point is, Your dreams of a third party nirvana aint gonna happen and besides its much more interesting to watch the party of the big tent in steel cage grudge match.

  22. Group2012 Says:

    Obama did indeed lie whether you liberals care to be acknowledge that reality or not. Even the AP came out with a fact check and slammed Obama on nearly every claim he made.

    OBAMA: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future.”

    But the Associated Press went out and did some fact checking on what Obama claimed in his speech. “The longtime prognosis in cost for health care legislation has not been good,” they reported. The Congressional Budget Office has said ObamaCare would add billions to the deficit over 10 years. In fact, not one of the liberal ObamaCare proposals coming out of Congress have been scored deficit neutral by any credible analytical group. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf had this to say in July: “We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

    OBAMA: “Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.”

    The AP Fact-Check story says: “The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats said that by 2016 some three million people who now have employer based care would lose it…” The bill kicks in in 2013 and doesn’t pick up a full head of steam right away. Three million people losing their employer based coverage is just the beginning come 2016. If Obama gets his way, there will be no employer based coverage.

    OBAMA: “Don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut. That will not happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.”

    The AP Fact-Check story says, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to pay for their health care plans in part by reducing Medicare payments to providers by more than $500 billion over ten years.”

    OBAMA: “Requiring insurance companies to cover preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies “makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.”

    The AP Fact-Check story says, “Studies have shown that much preventive care — particularly tests like the ones Obama mentions — actually costs money instead of saving it.” The Congressional Budget Office wrote in August: “The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.”

    OBAMA: “There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

    The AP Fact-Check story says, “Obama time and again has referred to the number of uninsured as 46 million.” “By using the new figure, Obama avoids criticism that he is including individuals, particularly healthy young people, who choose not to obtain health insurance.”

    Obama’s rhetoric is without honor, it may be articulate, but it’s most certainly not presidential.

  23. jeromy Says:

    Wait…you’re just moving on without acknowledging your previous mistake?

    Why bother addressing your new claims if you’re not going to fess up to any mistakes?

    You’re fundamentally dishonest. If you get caught on one thing, you’ll move on to the next one without a peep admitting any wrongdoing.

    Make no mistake, I am happy to address your claims, but my concern is that I am dealing with a dishonest individual who will signal no surrender even if I disprove every single claim made.

    Are you sticking by the immigrant lie or not? We simply can’t move forward until you display some basic honesty.

  24. Dr.Byte Says:

    Wait…isn’t Group2012 using the liberal AP to back up his claims?

  25. jeromy Says:

    And he also edits selectively, cutting out lines like, “That’s correct, as far as it goes.”

    Basically they noted $200 billion that Obama has already budgeted for. They pointed out that employers can change or stop your plan anytime they want (which has always been true except that Obama would add a penalty for them doing so and anybody would be able to get a new subsidized plan via the insurance exchange). They pointed out that mammograms are expensive, which is a valid point but let’s see Group2012 stand behind fewer tests for cancer. And they picked on Obama for saying you can get coverage even if you switch jobs or start your own business by noting that the mandate means you must get care, which is a pretty nitpicky thing to say.

    The 30 million number is also pretty nitpicky. Obama shrunk the number to focus on the more sympathetic people, but the goal is to get every citizen covered, even the healthy ones. People who think they don’t need health insurance because they’re young and invincible are simply stupid, and can create greater costs in the long run when they only pay in as their health declines, or they become injured.

    I point this out, but I still note that Group2012 is fundamentally dishonest and that he has not agreed to admit any error or fabrication on his part. He comes here to shout, not to talk like an adult.

  26. jeromy Says:

    And he’s still lying about the illegal immigrant stuff. Joe Wilson is a perfect representative for him. Note that Wilson has previously voted for immigrant health care, and that he has followed his “apology” with an immediate drive to accrue all the glory from wingers he can. He isn’t sorry for shit, and I would like to see the House spank him for violating rules of decorum.

  27. Zach Rock Says:

    I think he is sticking by that lie. How sad.

    No point in me adding my thoughts here it’s been a great read so far. Still I’m opposed to the bill, but I’m sure we all knew that so far.

    As much discomfort as my views cause at least I know not to lie directly.

  28. mike Says:

    Zach> Believe me, we appreciate the honesty.

  29. Zach Rock Says:

    I like to think so.

  30. Thomas Tallis Says:

    We’re looking at Obama about to close this deal here, and he deserves credit for that.

    You’re right, I did stop reading, precisely because: no. Close any old deal doesn’t count for jack with me; no credit for closing a deal that’s lame. I am officially done; I have voted for my last Democrat. I’m not alone, either. You for whom any & every matter of liberal importance can be jettisoned for the importance of passing bills & claiming victories are welcome to these hollow, meaningless victories. I’ll be voting greens, or communists, or staying home, and keeping the thousands of dollars I donated to Obama & spending ’em on obscure vinyl reissues or something. Democrats don’t believe in liberalism at all; they believe in remaining in power. That’s not a value I can stand behind.

  31. Descent Says:

    or staying home, and keeping the thousands of dollars I donated to Obama & spending ‘em on obscure vinyl reissues or something.

    The yet to be written health reform bill doesn’t stipulate tax-payer funded abortions so Thomas Tallis is going to spend his precious time and money on his personal obscurity fetish. Bravo. He’s found a hobby that requires an Internet connection, a credit card and an inflated sense of self. I’m sure he’ll find contentment.