Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama and "the health care speech"

"We are the only wealthy nation that allows such hardship for millions of its people".

The United States of America is the one country many know something about. You ask one of 'us Europeans' to list "something American" and they could go on forever, from Hollywood celebs to TV shows, from politicians to geography, from food to you name it- in a way no other country comes even remotely close.

But you ask most people and while they may look up to the US when it comes down to a lot of things, they would also invariably tell you about the one thing that's so scarily offputting: ruthlessness.

And, oversimplistic though it may be, this is how most view the US: the place where, if hardship falls on you, if one thing goes wrong or if fortune turns against you, then you're basically fucked and left to fend for yourself.

I don't know how many last night watched or read Barack Obama's "health care speech" in the Congress, but no-one can say he's not trying his hardest to put that right. No-one, but the most ideological Nader-voter perhaps, can accuse him of lacking bollocks or tiptoeing around. Because Obama's may not sound like the perfect plan, but for the first time there is something workable that, if passed, will not leave a single American citizen without healthcare coverage.

For the first time the concepts of compassion and the "ability to stand in other people's shoes" were spelt out in a factual, practical manner, a far cry from the hollow, hypocritical, religious formulas that have characterised each American administration until 2008 (of the kind "as long as you recite may-God-be-with-you then it's none of my business").

Obama laid out his plan sounding at once passionate and resolute as well as calm and persuasive.

While the president repeated his readiness to listen to his opponents and compromise, he also announced: "I will not back down on the basic principle that, if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice" and "I won't stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are."

Laying the spotlight on the plight of the uninsured, as well as the millions duped by insurance companies on the basis of "pre-existing conditions" like acne (he cited the case of an Illinois man who had his cancer treatment stopped because his insurer found that he hadn't reported gallstones he didn't even know about), President Obama said: "We are the only democracy, the only advanced democracy on Earth, the only wealthy nation that allows such hardship for millions of its people".

14,000 Americans lose their coverage everyday and millions go bankrupt as a consequence of a deeply fucked up health system - one where, Obama reminded us, "insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it".

"I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last", Obama remarked. If he succeeds, America will have finally turned over a new leaf.


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

And he got heckled.

The temerity of the twat in question.

Danicsto said...

A senior Republican on radio 4 yesterday accused Obama's proposed health reforms of trying to 'spread communism' in America. Brilliant.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Brilliant in a bad way?

I mean, how many times have these myths to be busted before they wake up and deal with the issue at hand?