Friday, September 11, 2009
Watching Obama's healthcare speech was like watching Joe Montana on the Football field. Montana, the greatest QB of all-time and probably my favorite sports figure, was known as "Mr. Cool" & "Mr. Comeback". He was not just one of the greatest QB's ever....but he was one of those transformational figures....who changed his profession - in his case pro football. Some believe that Obama represents that kind of profound transformational power in politics. The jury is still out on that....and will be for quite some time. But Obama was certainly Joe Montana-esque Wednesday night. Sorry for the sports analogy, but that's how I describe the speech. Few people have that kind of gift....meaning other examples just aren't adequate.
The Obama who decided to show up Wednesday night....is the man who motivated me (one of the most cynical, skeptical and doubtful men on earth) to register to vote for the first time last Fall. This was the Barack Obama that I voted for. I hope this wasn't just a Cameo appearance by this more assertive version of Obama.
And his speech was Montana-esque as I mentioned....but had some Adam Clayton Powell and MLK sprinkled in there too. The man has a gift. After an aggressive start....he entered a sort of zone towards the middle... that's when it started to feel like Church to me... (and to some of the members of Congress.... you could hear the Black Church call and response thing happening for a moment...and that happens spontaneously...that's when you know it's good, lol). Then when he got to Kennedy....you could hear a pin drop through the Television if one fell. An impressive performance indeed.
Montana is a good example for me because when I was a die-hard 49er fan back in the 80's.... on more than one occasion I turned off the TV or Radio in the second half or at half-time...when the Niners were down by 14, 17, 21 points, just to be surprised the next morning when I heard the final score. Let's just say that Montana made me look bad quite a few times....and left me in awe....wondering how he did it. I should have learned my lesson by now.... but skepticism is in my DNA. It's a healthy skepticism though (I hope).
And BTW....yes... This is an excuse to post some cool Montana videos. lol. Guilty.
But Obama hasn't won anything yet. My earlier views haven't changed. Giving a good speech is not enough in the sick political climate we are currently living in.... where 15 second soundbites and ignorance rule the day. It still remains to be seen whether the speech translates into enough votes in the U.S. Senate. Or if some sort of Public option will survive the legislative process. Game changer? I don't know. It's too early to determine that. But I wouldn't want to be a Conservative Democratic Senator right now. Obama put tremendous pressure on the so-called "Blue Dogs". He gave the Republicans an eloquent smackdown and snatched the microphone from their hands. Then he presented a challenge to the Blue Dogs. They must now make a tough choice...but Obama may have made it easier by giving them a little political cover. With more positive poll numbers on this issue, Obama can craft this as something that the people want....giving Conservative Democratic Senators something to work with. These Senators will have to decide if they want to go down in history as the group of Senators who blocked Healthcare reform that most Americans wanted...and helped to stifle...and even bring down their own Party.... and if they will try to gamble and use the issue to run for their Senate seats....seats that may not matter in the long run anyway if they cripple their Party. OR...will they be part of the solution and come out on the right side of history.... even if a few risk losing an election. It really shouldn't be that complicated... but I guess power really does corrupt and in terrible & interesting ways. If these Senators really care more about their Senate seats than the best interests of Millions of fellow citizens...then we have more serious problems deep down to worry about than just Healthcare Reform.
Meanwhile they are facing this charismatic politician from Chicago....in fact a whole crew from Chicago...who are crafty (not crafty enough yet for the Republican machine...but crafty nonetheless) and who could theoretically do things that could make life more difficult for them in the Senate (diverting campaign funds elsewhere, pushing for other Primary challengers, not funding local projects, etc).
I believe Obama may have convinced a few of these Blue Dogs to come along.... but probably not all of them; probably not enough to get the 60 votes needed to do the procedural things necessary to get final passage of a robust Healthcare Reform Bill in the Senate. And BTW folks... the 60 vote claim by Dems has always been shaky. They have never really had 60. For one thing, Lieberman and Specter aren't reliable Democratic votes...although I believe both support Obama's basic proposals on Healthcare Reform (the direction Specter will go in the end remains to be seen). There is at least one Independent (who tends to support Democrats). Sen. Byrd is ill and has been for quite some time. Byrd may have difficulty being around for all the procedural wrangling that will need to take place. He's good for the main vote...when he may have to be wheeled into the Senate Chamber....and wheeled right out. Hopefully he will be well enough to participate in the process. But then there is the loss of Kennedy. That alone leaves you with fewer than 60. To get anywhere close to 60, you would have to assume that every "Blue Dog" Democrat decides to support the legislation.... and I don't believe that's realistic. But let's assume that's the case....that all Blue Dogs suddenly change their tune. That would only give Obama 59 votes.
Sen. Olympia Snowe.... (the legendary politician who John McCain passed up in favor of Caribou Barbie when he wanted a female running mate)...she may be a King Maker in this situation.
I always thought that something would be passed....some sort of Healthcare legislation would likely pass the House and Senate. Obama is not about to end up with nothing to sign after dedicating so much time to this issue. The question for me was always....what will be in the final Bill?
Another problem Obama has is the same one he had in June, July and August. The Republican media machine isn't going anywhere. There will be several weeks before there is any final agreement on a Healthcare Bill... plenty of time for the Republican Right Wing media to brainwash more gullible Americans, tell more lies, distort and misinform, and spin the facts. As good as Obama's speech was.... Americans have a very short memory, which works in favor of Right Wing spinsters. They will chip away some of the support for any sort of public option....and they will continue to try to manipulate & scare Democratic Senators from Conservative States.
See other great Montana videos
Montana Magic Part 1
Montana Magic Part 2
Montana Magic Part 3