by Max Brantley
Funny coincidence. Inveterate reader Chris Gray sent me a link to an essay by the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg about the angry and emotional left-wing response to health care legislation and President Obama's role in it.
While I was reading it came a call from a Politico reporter about whether liberals in Arkansas pose a threat to Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election bid (all 14 of us).
Lincoln, it seems to me, is far more vulnerable to a general lack of enthusiasm than a specifically liberal dissatisfaction over health care. Her situation is sort of ironic. What we see from Lincoln -- far more than from many more calculating politicians -- is, I think, the real Blanche Lincoln. She's a mushy middle centrist, whose gender and mainstream church upbringing sometimes give her a liberal tinge on social issues, excepting gun nuttery. If you believe the punditry, the middle decides elections. So if elections truly were all about electing people most like the average voter, she'd win. Lincoln is nothing if not average. But the pundits say either a Republican field uniformly to the right of Jerry Falwell or a liberal Democrat could easily beat her.
Well, anyway, to fire up the left-wing firebrands once again, I urge a read of Hertzberg. He says the admittedly imperfect health bill remains a "moral and material advance of historic proportions."
The left-wing critics are right about the conspicuous flaws of the pending health-care reform—its lack of even a weak “public option,” its too meagre subsidies, its windfalls for Big Pharma, its capitulation on abortion coverage, its reliance on private insurance. And there are surely senators and representatives whose motives are base or, broadly speaking, corrupt. But it is nonsense to attribute the less than fully satisfactory result to the alleged perfidy of the President or “the Democrats.” The critics’ indignation would be better directed at what an earlier generation of malcontents called “the system”—starting, perhaps, with the Senate’s filibuster rule, an inanimate object if there ever was one.
Plus, something is better than nothing. Resume fire.