In the scheme of things, on the already rigged-to-the-right playing field that we were given, Senator Harry Reid's announcement yesterday that the Senate version of the health care reform bill will contain a public option, with the stupid-states-can-bail opt-out clause, was actually a victory of sorts for the left. Sure, sure, the whole public option debate is about a moderately conservative approach to getting insurance to the uninsured. But, at this point in the degraded American health care system, we could very well have had a bill that said the insurance companies couldn't walk into hospital rooms, shoot patients in the head, and fuck the bullet hole in front of their families. Of course, had such a bill been offered, progressives would be told to suck it up, that it's reform, that at least fewer people would have their head wounds fucked by insurers and isn't that an improvement?
So, relative to the terms of the debate, this is one small, sweet success for the left in the Democratic Party. It's an in-yer-fookin-gob moment to the teabaggers, their faux movement, and their remora-like politicians and media figures. They've been marginalized and shoved out of the debate for the time being.
Of course, for some, as with any perceived victory by liberals, it's just weakness and pandering on the part of Congressional supporters. In a pathetically sad column, Dana Milbank goes after Harry Reid, saying that his announcement of the bill is more about propping up his re-election bid than about doing the right thing. Milbank writes, "As Democratic aides described it, the moment had less to do with health-care policy than with Nevada politics -- and one vulnerable senator's justifiable fear of liberal anger."
There's a notion implicit in what Milbank is saying, beyond his clinging to the bipartisan ghost, that, if liberal groups support what Reid said, it will fail. Milbank mocks Reid for not being sure if he has the votes to pass the legislation. It presupposes something else: that liberals are wrong. It's what much of the media always presupposes, that if liberals want something, it must be against the interests of the country because it's not "moderate" (which really means "conservative"). Somebody's power was gonna be asserted in the bill - left, right, corporate. You just want to raise your hand and say, "Umm, can you tell us what we on the left were wrong about in the last decade or so? No, really, what have you got?" All Milbank has is snide, oh-so-insider-y insinuation and worthless failure-mongering.
Still, for a moment here, and against the sayers of nay, like Milbank (not to mention the insanitoid rantings from the actual right wing), we can be satisfied that progressives didn't roll over, that we stood strong, and that we were able to push that fucking boulder of health care reform forward. The question remaining is whether we're Hercules or Sisyphus.
Let's hope it's not Sisyphus. Been there, done that since the dawn of the Reagan era which has passed for the moment.
Let's also hope Congress realizes that Hercules was not tasked with refilling the Augean stables after he cleaned them.