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Web Letter

I do not know what Snowe found annoying about the president's weak positioning of public option, as a condiment instead of the main dish or even a side dish, of something as vital to the success of real reform as PO. This shift from president's full-throated defense of the public option in his press conferences, is to win over Snowe & Co. and president's own Stray Dogs.

I think it was an opportunity missed to use the bully pulpit to convince the American public of the importance of PO as a component critical to achieving real reform.

The president continued to repeat his very recent ritual of publicly cutting the legs of the public option ostensibly to court GOP votes, appease his own Stray Dogs and Health Inc. He claimed PO was only one additional feature. There may be other ideas to replace it. He has no further evidence than before that the objectives above can be achieved by any other means, yet he did not want to sell it to the American public. Maybe I am missing something about a political stratagem president is after.

The president also failed to clearly connect the pathetic plight of many Americans to his solutions. Also did not tell them honestly the timetable of when the relief will come to the blighted. Like four years to an exchange. Four years from 2013? From today?

He says: Progressives should not think PO is the only way, it is just one means; they should be open to other ideas. Mr. P., have you not been open for months now? What do you have to show? Belittling the public option and the progressives as extreme left who are stuck on this one idea--is this a way to display your post-partisanship? I did not know that a compromise from single-payer to making the public plan optional is some kind of extreme-left philosophy (horror of horrors, someone labels him a socialist!). Do you think this approach will unite your stray dogs and right-wing saboteurs to support a sham bill to put a feather in the Democratic Party cap?

Mr. P., we have all bought into the importance of your three core objectives and your touching empathy for 14,000 losing insurance every day and hundreds dying and going bankrupt. What I do not see is your commitment to selling and pushing the only real means to get there, i.e., the public option. I do not see you showing clearly how you will take care of the blighted you so eloquently described in the campaign and continue to do so, in a timely and effective (in terms of dollars and cents from their pockets) way. Imagine the number of people losing their insurance, maybe hundreds of thousands dying or going bankrupt while waiting for 2013.

Arvind Agrawal

Fremont, CA

Sep 13 2009 - 7:22am

Web Letter

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was quoted as having said: "I can't believe what I just heard, and I don't." Mr. Obama was silent or telling half-truths on a number of things.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: "The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Tucano Fulano

Big Bear, CA

Sep 11 2009 - 1:17pm

Web Letter

Two points:

1. The intent of Obama's speech was solely to shore up support on his left; to prevent the so-called progressives in the House from defecting. Thus, he threw them many verbal bones... but clearly stated, he does not view the Public Option as mandatory, only as a means to an end. The radical left now has two choices: they can rally behind him, save his presidency and settle for half a loaf. Or they can defect en masse and gut his presidency while achieving no bill at all. They're clearly doing the former, as vanden Huevel's article makes clear. Explaining to the radical left Base why Obama's approach is just peachy-keen.

2. Obama wasn't speaking to the center at all. If he was, he would have addressed the center's number-one concern, which is how to pay for a $900B program. Obama could only offer the fantasy that we'll pay for it all by cutting waste out of Medicare. Not even a child would believe this.

Reform, yes! Obamacare, no! Dems need to go back to the drawing board and craft a no-kidding pragmatic centrist bill that actually addresses the concerns of the majority of the voters.

John Roggen

Saginaw, MI

Sep 11 2009 - 8:06am

Web Letter

Obama appears to really, really like the really, really rich.

After telling a couple of familiar horror stories, he says, "Insurance executives don't do this because they are bad people.... All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called 'Wall Street's relentless profit expectations.' "

Should we really care whether insurance executives are charming and generous in their private lives? Where exactly does Obama lose his way when connecting the dots from the mother denied coverage for cancer to the insurance executives? He's using Wall Street, which he just bailed out and can't quite regulate, to excuse Blue Cross? Can't he ever fight for moral justice?

He says, "Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service."

Exactly what is this service? We would do fine with just one system of cost control and reimbursement, say the Medicare model.

He won't bargain for the best drug prices. He poured trillions on Wall Street. He's gone wimpy on financial regulation. He is poised to criminalize anybody who doesn't buy for-profit health insurance from villains. He continues to support private war contractors in service of an unpopular, high-risk, foggy-rewards war. He looks and quacks like one of us, but he writes checks like one of them.

Ann Buckingham

McMinnville, OR

Sep 10 2009 - 5:27pm

Web Letter

Hooray! His speech was a magnificent demonstration of greatness in America. I can find no fault with this man.

Such a performance. It drew the proper line for all time to direct hatred toward Republicans--who know nothing but how to lie and kill. Obama has got to quit kowtowing to them in any way now. They should be treated as The Unborn with cancer--abort them and stomp on their dead carcasses to fight evil.

Way to tell it, Bam.

Now you’ve got to go after Zionist Jews pushing drones killing civilians in Afghanistan. You have shown yourself capable of standing up to the voters supporting right-wing lying psychokillers, now stand up to the Israel lobby. If you don't, the two groups will get together again with Boss Limbaugh and the Cocktail Delay Dancers and tear down everything you and all who supported you (not me, until after this--now it's all the way unless he flinches) have accomplished.

You must: 1. Quit stroking abort doc killers. 2. Warn the public of swine flu vaccine danger (and who insures against horrible side effects if Big Pharma was given immunity from lawsuits?) 3. End the Afghanistan War and out-of-date cold war NATO policies toward Russia.

Sid B. Thomas

Binghamton, NY

Sep 10 2009 - 4:41pm

Web Letter

Obama's speech was eloquent, forceful, well done and stirring. But it was all style and plenty of betrayal. Not only was Obama's speech a further retreat from his own campaign promises to the people, but it promised to deliver more tax money to the insurance companies than Medicare does

It was sad to see the editor of The Nation so taken in by eloquence. It is hard to believe we were listening to the same speech.

An op-ed piece in the NY Times today called it: Obama's eloquent forceful speech was less about healthcare and more about restoring his image.

margie ghiz-gillies

Santa Monica, CA

Sep 10 2009 - 3:59pm

Web Letter

It is obvious Ms. vanden Heuvel is holding out for a single-payer plan to nationalize healthcare in the US.

The pending legislation (all four and soon to be five) are incomprehensible 1,000-plus-page monstrosities that the Dems hope no one will read.

For example, Rep. Joe Wilson is being castigated about his response to the president's assertion that illegal aliens will not be eligible for any benefits under any of the healthcare plans. But a reading of the bills shows no provision for verifying eligibility. In fact, in several committees' amendments to specifically address illegal aliens, the amendments were defeated by the Dem majority. There is no provision in any of the proposed legislation prohibiting the participation of illegal aliens!

I doubt that the president's speech will turn the actual impediments to implementing the public option; moderate Dems.

Brian Marks

Richardson ( Dallas), TX

Sep 10 2009 - 3:38pm

Web Letter

Actually, he went lower than his spine.

Franco Cossu

Pasadena, CA

Sep 10 2009 - 2:43pm

Web Letter

Let's see, single-payer just tossed out the window without a glance. The anemic public option restricted to only those whom the insurance corporations reject. And even at that, Obama shows a willingness to "work together" and toss that little scrap overboard. What is the centerpiece of Obama's "plan"?

The mandate that citizens must purchase health insurance policies from the same corporations that have created the healthcare mess in the first place is the centerpiece of Obama's "plan." Everything else is small potatoes. Everything else is window-dressing and distraction from the elephant in the room. The insurance corporations know it. It represents an enormous transfer of wealth to them.

The insurance corporations are besides themselves with joy. They have acquired the power of taxation in all but name. A law that uses the power of the state to force you to pay money or else be punished is a tax. There is no other name for it. A tax is a tax.

These corporations now have the power to collect taxes directly without the interference caused by democracy and our elected representatives, with the only role for government being the enforcer.

The power to tax. What a plum! What a reward! I guess because these corporations have done such a fine job giving us the wonderful efficient healthcare system we now enjoy, they deserve all this new wealth and stunning new power. We can all be assured they will be responsible with it. Why wouldn't they be? They are deeply concerned with our well-being. It says so right in their ads.

Thomas Dooley

Dedham, MA

Sep 10 2009 - 11:56am

Web Letter

Another chapter in the sad decline of Obama, this speech was mostly warmed-over repetition of things that didn't make sense before. The numbers don't add up! With pthetic efflorts ike this, the people are quickly learning to tune him out.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Sep 10 2009 - 2:05am

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