Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Curb your enthusiasm for Obama?

That's the title (without the question mark) of a long Truthdig piece by Chris Hedges, which shows a date of August 31 but for some reason only popped up in Truthdig's online newsletter today.

Hedges' post is actually about one specific issue, health care, and the first graf pretty much tells you his attitude:

Barack Obama’s health care plan coddles the corporations that profit from the misery and illnesses of tens of millions of Americans. The plan is naive, at best, and probably disingenuous when it insists that we can coax these corporations, which are listed on the stock exchange and exist to maximize profit, to transform themselves into social service agencies that will provide adequate health care for all Americans. I wish we lived in such a rosy world. I know, and I suspect Obama knows, that we do not.

I will let you read the rest yourselves, and urge you to do so. Even if you are not inclined to agree with Hedges--and I personally think that his perspective is too negative--there is no question that anyone who wishes to solve the health care crisis needs to carefully analyze why Hillary Clinton's naive attempts to do so failed. My own view is that she lulled herself into thinking that she could get at least part of the insurance industry to go along with her plans; but Hedges may well be right that only declaring war on that industry will get us where we want to be.

But most importantly for the moment: Why is Obama not hammering away much harder at McCain on the health care issue, which is a huge winner for the Democrats and a huge loser for the Republicans? Indeed, Obama could probably win the election on this one plank alone, because McCain's plan is designed to leave full power in the hands of the insurance companies--in other words, to put a band-aid on the problem. I hope that this will be a big topic of discussion at the September 26 debate at the University of Mississippi, which will focus on domestic issues.

And if Obama does win, he will have a mandate to take on the insurance companies--if he is willing, and if he dares.

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images


jqb said...

My enthusiasm is for getting the Republicans out of the White House and providing political space for progressives, and I see no reason to curb that. I have long ( been unenthused about the details of Obama's health plan, among many of his other policies (e.g., But then, I had the same view in 2000 and 2004, when you and folks like Marc Cooper were singing a quite different tune.

jqb said...

P.S. I linked to that socialistworker piece hastily; I'm concerned about Obama's views on Israel and Iran, but no way is he to the right of Bush. Here's a somewhat more charitable view from Ray McGovern:

"What I see Obama as doing, really, is trying to face this realistically, to look at what the prospects are with respect to that part of the world and what kind of a role Iran really is playing. Is Iran really a strategic threat to the United States? Balderdash. It is not. To whom might it construed to be a strategic threat? Surprise, surprise—the State of Israel. Now, is it? Well, that's a matter of opinion. If you're an Israeli—and I'd put myself in the position of the Israelis after the experience I've been through the last several decades, I would worry about Iran getting a nuclear weapon if indeed they're working on one, which US intelligence says they are not. But I would worry about that. So the question is how you handle that. Do you handle that by overwhelming force, by attacking Iran? I don't think so. You handle that in the traditional way, the Marshall Plan way, the old, traditional methods of diplomacy—you talk to these people, find out what their grievances are, find out what their fears are, and, indeed, the head of the national intelligence council just last weekend said, you know, the Iranians have reason to fear us; whether they're right or not, a reason to fear us. And certainly they do."