like to think of myself as a smart man. Unfortunately, most of
my friends are significantly more likely to first say I’m a smart
ass. Regardless, I’ve been quietly sitting on the sideline, trying
to take in everything swirling around with this health care debate,
and the time has come for me to say something. So here it is…
this has turned into a game of push and shove. Who can yell the
loudest… who can defend positions they don’t seem to understand,
but don’t want to look like a fool by changing their mind (and
looking exactly like a fool when they do)… and all sorts of other
assorted hilarities and oddities. We’ve got members of Congress
yelling at the public… we’ve got the public yelling at members
nothing is getting done.
to the new Washington. (Same as the old Washington.)
let’s establish some background here.
number one ~ A
little over a month ago, Biden says a second
stimulus package might be necessary, might not be necessary, but
these things take time. And I agree with one aspect of the entire
story, which is that when you plan to distribute monies over months
and years, you can’t look for instant results after days and weeks.
But an interesting nugget is to be found in this little quote
from our Vice President: “We misread just how bad the economy
funny things here.
of all, the administration is saying that their reading of the
data… the first impression… the (my words) “quick… quick… we have
to do something or the world is going to end” dive made into the
pool… was, you know, filled with mistakes. How could they have
known things might get worse? Did anyone really think that was
a possibility? (Read full sarcasm in the questioning.)
then second, this story is the first place where you begin to
see the excuse machine picking up speed. The excuse machine is
always there in politics. But this summer, it’s getting a little
louder and happening a little more often. The words like “inherit”
begin to come into place. They start asking for patience because…
we all need to understand… they recognize their responsibility
to work on cleaning this mess up, but lord knows they didn’t create
it. They’re claiming to be part of the solution… not part of the
problem… and all of us are supposed to look the other way and
miss the fact that virtually all of them held an office working
in Washington while the problem was created. They blame it all
on Bush… and we, the villagers put away the torches. (For now.)
number two ~ The clunker of a clunker program. Look… I’m not even
going to give you some opinions and concepts here… I don’t need
to… let’s just list it off…
program didn’t have enough money
that are participating are finding the forms and the
process just this side of impossible
program is treating other segments of the auto industry (and
other areas) something less than kindly…
used auto sales… used auto parts… charitable donations…
combine these two ideas and we can support three interesting things.
First, the administration seems to be in love with acting as quickly
as possible, and apparently doesn’t consider the long term repercussions
or all possibilities. Second, the administration, even when they
get something out there that looks like a success, is ticking
off tons of people because of problems and unexpected collateral
damage (that may ultimately destroy the success). And third, when
questioned on any of it, the response is getting louder: (my words
again, but honestly, tell me you haven’t heard them in some form)
“Hey… whoa… not my fault… just cleaning up the mess.”
haven’t read every page of the of the suggested health care reform
plan. In fact, honestly, I haven’t read one complete page of the
more than one-thousand pages in it. But I don’t need to read a
single word of it to tell you two things.
This country does need to look at the health care system that
is in place, the practices/policies/actions and more involved,
and try to improve it. This process needs to be handled as a detailed…
well-researched… thought provoking… issue debated… consequences
It can’t be a rush job just because people want to attach deadlines
to it and meet those deadlines.
far I have seen absolutely nothing to tell me that Democratic
leadership… from the White House on… is capable of handling such
a project correctly. The Vice President is saying that things
changed for the worse, and caught them by surprise, not even five
months after taking quick action on the economy. Programs work
to encourage increased business, but don’t have enough money to
support themselves, and in the end are so complicated they might
destroy businesses along the way. And everything seems to come
with that collateral damage… or, better yet, collateral damage
control… as unexpected side events take place.
would have thought that improving auto sales would cost charities
millions upon millions of dollars?
you know… pardon me for saying this, because maybe I’m wrong,
I don’t even play a car salesman on TV… but I believe an expert
in the field given a fair amount of time to research things almost
certainly would have thought about the impact on charities… and
the underfunding possibilities… and that the economy might just
I don’t understand the rush in acting on health care. I think
it commits way too much money for something that leaves too many
possibilities out there for problems. And I don’t mean headaches…
I mean evil, vicious, most horrible things you could imagine nightmares
truly existing under your bed problems.
what we’ve seen so far, government is bringing health care right
down a path we’ve seen traveled several times just this year.
And the story has the same structure… the same framework… that
we’ve seen result in problems.
don’t kid yourself. Washington hasn’t really changed… not yet
anyway. This is the same finger-pointing, back-biting, positioning
oneself for the future at the risk of the present politics we’ve
been given over and over and over again. So as our country had
so many people celebrating the arrival of change… it appears to
me those people conveniently are forgetting that change is more
than a word, it requires actual action and, you know, change…
perhaps this health care subject may finally set people off enough
to toss all of these people out and really bring about a new Washington.
Because it doesn’t look like it’s happening yet.
a story that I love about Billy Martin and Yogi Berra. Goes something
was managing the Yankees, and he got fired. Berra was hired to
take over for him. When Berra walked into the manager’s office
in Yankee Stadium for the first time, he found two envelopes inside
envelope was labeled in a way that told Berra to only open it
in case of an emergency, with one labeled as the first envelope
to be opened.
eventually did start going badly for Berra, with talk building
in the media and in ownership quotes of a managerial problem and
his job being on the line. He opened the first envelope and pulled
out a note.
that day, Berra spoke with reporters and talked about how tough
a situation he was handed and proceeded to blame Martin for all
of the troubles. The team immediately began playing better and,
for a while, talk of his dismissal disappeared.
another wave of bad play arrived. Ownership again began telling
reporters that things needed to change and change fast. Berra
began to worry. Remembering how helpful Martin had been before,
he went back to the desk and took out the second envelope.
the story true? I don’t know. Legends usually aren’t. I love the
story anyway. What I can tell you is this… the only time Billy
Martin was directly replaced by Yogi Berra in New York that I
know of was in 1984. And you’ll never guess who replaced Berra
in 1985. (Yup… Martin.)
can only hope that as Obama reaches for the second envelope in
his desk, as a country we do better than returning to the Republicans.
And I can only hope that we wake up as a country… that our leaders
wake up… and realize that health care is too important to decide
in two days or two weeks because someone wants a decision before
everyone heads home for vacation.
~ ~ ~
I first wrote this essay, a tremendous portion of it simply rolled
along… one of those writer’s dream moments where the fingers are
keeping pace with the thoughts and nothing stops, everything just
keeps moving along.
then I went in to proofread what I had written. For the most part
I was pleased. But I felt that it needed a follow-up… some clarity…
I first started this article, it was about health care reform
and, more specifically, why it was stupid to set an amazingly
quick deadline for completing it. But then the words and thoughts
began leading to a weird transformation…
support material for why rushing into this decision was a bad
idea, using examples from this administration and this national
assembly of representation, began to show me that politics as
usual that demanded change in the last national election actually
still looked like politics as usual.
as the tone shifted a bit on that note, portions became more of
a review of how the first six… seven… eight months of this presidency
founded on change had at the foundation of things brought about
little actual change.
over a few other twists and turns, I suddenly found myself standing
in front of a computer screen where I had three pages of text
that formulated an argument showing why Barack Obama was the rough
equivalent of Yogi Berra reaching for that legendary second envelope.
was supposed to be about health care.
I went back and revised portions of it. And I want to share a
bit of why that happened.
of all, I don’t mind Barack Obama… the person. (I hate resorting
to the easy joke, but so be it. He strikes me as the kind of guy
you’d like to meet up with for a beer. I know… I know… but look
for the imagery in the sentiment and not the history.) He’s well
spoken, incredibly personable, and has a wide and diverse range
of interests and passions. Long story short, I find him to be
real and authentic in an arena far too often filled with fake
and created personas. But understand, again, that is as a person.
As a president I believe that so far he has demonstrated an amazing
lack of experience and incredibly flawed reasoning.
my opinion. However, while as president he deserves to be at the
front of the line when it comes to passing out grades, heck…
Barney Frank doing any better with this health care issue? No.
about Nancy Pelosi? Is she providing example after example of
how Washington has learned for past mistakes, grown, and created
a stronger leadership for America? (Do you really need me to answer
that one? Good.)
it’s the Democrats… right? Obama, Biden, Frank and Pelosi. Yes?
Nope. Not even close.
Palin did such a fine job of organizing her thoughts, plans and
political aspirations that in a period of about six weeks she
managed to completely blow up a presidential campaign that, supposedly,
didn’t even exist.
Sarah, the Republicans are watching candidate after candidate
for their vacant role of leadership take perfect aim at their
own feet. (Go back a few lines… look for my quote about Obama:
“real and authentic in an arena far too often filled with fake
and created”… now get in your car, drive to South Carolina, and
ask some of the residents in that state if their governor is more
“real and authentic” or “fake and created” as a politician. Actually…
nah… just pull up a search engine and save yourself the drive.)
it’s amazing how incompetent the whole group looks.
brings us to the second point… that this was supposed to be an
article about health care reform and how Washington doesn’t need
to rush action. It’s an important issue. It deserves… and actually
requires… thorough investigations and questioning.
suppose at this point I’m fine with where the article is. I do
think it deserves to be pointed out that Washington is, from the
seat I occupy in viewing the show, still Washington. And I did
find it amazingly funny that if the Billy Martin story is accurate,
then Yogi Berra was ultimately replaced with Billy Martin. Makes
for a funny little twist on Democrat replacing Republican only
to get voted out and replaced by a Repuiblican.
just wanted you to know I don’t fault Obama for all of it. I do
think he deserves some of the blame… some of the responsibility
like him as a man. Heck, I admire him as a man. But I’m not sold
on him as a president.