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The End Of The Myth Of Chess-Playing Obama

I haven’t had much heart for wading into the renewed debate over the Democrats’ health care reform package, sealed into law as the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. We debated the Democrats’ plan for health care reform back in 2009. We vigorously urged the consideration of a more simple, single-payer health care system. The Obama Administration and the congressional Democrats weren’t in a mood to listen. That’s over and done. The opportunity for good reform came and went, and I haven’t been eager to dig up these old arguments.

But, here’s the thing: The Democrats’ health care reform package sucks eggs, and no, it isn’t just because the Republicans have been obstructionist.

I live in New York State, and so, I have access to a state health care exchange, which in theory should be working just fine, because it’s not Kathleen Sebelius’s federal nightmare. The New York health care exchange is a mess, too. All I wanted was to find out about the new alternatives to the expensive health care plan I have now. It took me hours of waiting and wrangling, and what I found out is that the new health care plans are actually more expensive than what I already have – and the cost of my plan is going up, not down.

For years, mainstream, center-right Democrats have been making snide remarks about liberals, saying that we just don’t get it, that we’re naive. They say that we don’t understand Barack Obama’s genius, and we don’t see that he’s playing a game of political chess, while the Republicans are playing checkers. They told us that Obama was merely sacrificing liberal pawns as part of a long-term political plan that, eventually, liberals would be happy about. We were just too short-sighted to see it, they said.

Now we see what that argument has left us with.

Barack Obama came into office, fueled largely on liberal enthusiasm, with a massive mandate and control over both houses of Congress. He sacrificed that, all to pass his health care reform legislation. Climate change legislation, ending the wars, closing Guantanamo, stopping unconstitutional spying, ending the Republicans’ regressive tax model, and much more… were sacrificed in order to get the Affordable Care Act into law.

Just you wait, said the Democratic leadership, until health care reform goes into effect. You’ll be glad, in the end.

Now, I think it’s fair to say, it’s the end. I see what all the political sacrifice was for, and I’m not impressed. The Affordable Care Act is the signature legislation of Barack Obama’s presidency, and it’s a mess.

If Barack Obama has been playing a chess game, he’s been doing it very badly, sacrificing his queen in the first play of the game.

Please, Democrats, don’t come to us liberals asking us to be quiet and wait any longer for Barack Obama to get his presidency together. We’ve waited for years, and it’s plain now that there never was any genius long-term plan… unless you suppose that what Barack Obama wanted to do all along was to take the strongest progressive political movement in over a generation, and co-opt it, to prevent it from getting anything accomplished.

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