Morning Report, August 12: Honesty in Health-Care Debate, Heads Should Roll, the Gap Between Ideality and Reality, Love in Two Dimensions, Jesus X, and RIP Eunice Kennedy Shriver
1. Sojourners, the magazine and website produced by Call to Renewal, a movement of liberal Christians devoted to social and political reform, has taken up the fight for the Democrats’ health care reform. Although Sojourners and Call to Renewal are not explicitly aligned with either party, and seek to engage both parties on moral and religious issues, they have fought against the “Religious Right” and the Bush administration for years, and it’s no secret where their sympathies lay. President Obama refers to Jim Wallis, the head of the organization, as his spiritual advisor. Jim has written popular books and finds himself today at the zenith of his power.
Sojourners has just rolled out a page on Health-Care Reform Resources. Jim himself identifies three “fundamental moral issues” on which the Christian community can focus throughout the debate: the truth, full access, and cost. Regarding the first: “What we need is an honest and fair debate with good information, not sabotage of reform with half-truths and misinformation.” But does Wallis himself abide by this coda? Later today I will have a post on the health care debate and the dishonesties on both sides.
2. Who is to blame for the dissolution of the health care reform fight? “Heads should roll,” says Camille Paglia, and Nancy Pelosi deserves blame above all. As mentioned before, I always find Camille Paglia worth reading; though she’s committed to her liberal views, she is a strikingly honest and original thinker. She lauds Obama for representing the United States “with dignity” abroad, but deplores the domestic policy apparatus as feckless and amateurish. “Who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises — or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.”
Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, another Obama supporter, is also growing increasingly critical. She refers to a “dangerously wide gap between Obama’s idealistic campaign-trail promises and the gritty realities of real-world governing. Every new president encounters this tension, but it is, I think, more acute, and therefore more politically treacherous, for Obama. The fundamental allure of his candidacy was that he could not only wipe away the stains of the Bush administration but overcome the partisan jockeying and special interest influence-buying that have alienated voters from their government.” This was something that concerned me throughout the election process. Promises so grand cannot possibly be fulfilled. The possibility of implementation seemed a distant afterthought compared with the necessity of winning the election. Yet this “dangerously wide gap” only threatens to further disenchant the American electorate, especially the young, who thought that Obama, if anyone, truly believed in his ideals and would not compromise. (Where they saw evidence of this in his record remains a mystery to me, but sometimes the voice is so mellifluous, the words so inspiring, that the record recedes from view.)
4. Today’s Two-Sides (or More). Read John Mackey of the Wall Street Journal on 8 things we can do to reform health care without adding to the deficit. Also, John Stossel disputes the notion that “big business” and “corporatists” are behind opposition to the health care reform plan, for the simple reason that the insurance companies as well as “Big Pharma” support the reform as a whole. Not because they favor free markets, but because they want the market unfree in their favor. These companies stand to gain tens of millions of new customers, and are especially eager for the young and healthy who choose not to purchase insurance because they don’t believe they need it. These are the real cash cow for insurance companies. Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson tells us that it is really not reform, but failure to reform, that we should fear.
5. SIGN OF THE TIMES. Japanese men fall in love with two-dimensional girls. Not women, mind you. Girls. And did I mention they’re two-dimensional? Pillowcases, to be precise.
6. The headline tells the story: “X-Games Bad Boys Turn to the Bible.” And another: “Temptation Harder to Resist Than You Think, Study Suggests.” And those most likely to succumb to temptation are precisely those who think themselves most immune to such pressures. If there were ever a case for moral humility, this should be a part of it.
7. And finally, RIP Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The Right is wary of all Kennedys, but Eunice deserves a special blessing for her work with the Special Olympics. The Kennedys, of course, are Catholics, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver gave expression to a classic Catholic social conscience. The world is the worse for losing her.