Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
The lead-up to the health care initiative was an interesting narrative that calls for some reflection on a few phases of media coverage. Days after the Obama election, the press went on a spree about the death of the Republican Party and the demise of conservative ideas in general (analysis here). A year later it was the demise of Obama’s various initiatives and a conservative resurgence. Months before, Congress’ attempts were sinking.
These narratives are shaped by power, chance, and incident, of course, and, I would argue, the irony of the ineffectualness of conservative ideas, which aren’t traditionally conservative, as the “less government” meme is a farce and has been since the Civil War. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman are Obama’s ironic doubles. If this is the face of the current Republican party, then those with seats should start another path.
Given the news of the last few days and today’s talk about revolution and reactionism (this mean to go back to the way things were), we can get our crystal balls out again. In my mind, Obama is well aware of these trends, but no matter. Senate hearings have been shut down, bricks are flying, and idiotic maneuvers continue (some of those maneuvers perhaps would have been legit if the party had played ball rather than walking off the court), all of which point to the effectiveness of Barack Obama and the seriousness with which the opposition now takes him. Okay. I’m pretty impressed by the narrative. I told S a few days back that if any health care bill passed, I’d consider Obama a genius. And so things stand.
I’ve read the bill. Some of it I could understand. Much of it is written in the legal discipline language of legislative bills, which really needs a dose of hypertext to provide clarity, and can only be understood in association to precedent and several other texts. (Maybe this could be a student project or a job for Emberlight.) In general the bill is a set of compromises and comes with very little of what I’d want. But no one wants what I want. Non-monetized health care is a crazy ideal. But non-monetized health care isn’t the same as socialized medicine (don’t bother disagreeing with this: I know what the arguments are; go read Aristotle instead). This bill is neither. In any event, perception will be shaped by what people see as a direct benefit, like eye glasses in the 19th century.
One lesson here has to do with the image of fleas: that’s a riddle.