What’s the difference?

As most of you know, I start the day on my rowing machine.  It exercises just about every part of my body including some that I didn’t know I had.

There are two settings on the torture device.  One is resistance.  You spin a dial to increase or decrease the amount of “pull” you have to exert to get the thing moving.  The other setting is in my head.  It’s the one that tells your arms and legs how fast to move as you yank on the “oar” and slide the seat along the rail.  As I age, both settings are continually minimized.  Soon I’ll just be sitting there.  Sort of like health care reform.

Conveniently, today’s rowing coincided with Obama’s Health Care Summit.  CNN carried the thing.  It was preceded by a gaggle of talking heads predicting a general unraveling of the Summit, a return by the opposing parties to their respective corners and back-alley scheming that Shakespeare would have envied.

The TV screen is small and well removed from the rowing machine.  When the event began I had difficulty figuring out which suits contained Republicans and which housed Democrats.  For a time I confused Chris Dodd with John McCain as both are about as old as me and sport white hair.  The confusion cleared as McCain spent the better part of his time accusing Obama of a lack of transparency, partisan deal-making and a reluctance to involve Republicans in the legislative process.  I nearly jumped from the machine and cheered when Obama told McCain that the presidential campaign had ended more than a year ago.  The old guy sulked for most of the next five hours and focused on the things needed to rescue his endangered Senate re-election bid.

The Republicans came prepared.  They prominently displayed and caressed the 2,400 page Democratic proposal as though there were alien incantations residing in it.   Three doctors, now in Congress, buttressed the party’s medical credentials and encouraged more emphasis on combatting waste, fraud and abuse.  They repeatedly told Obama that the polls show that the public doesn’t want the Democrats’ plan.  They warned of financial catastrophe should the Democrats prevail.  You can’t trust the government, aka them, to run anything.  Junk what’s there.  Start over.  We’re here to help.

For their part, the Democrats regaled the crowd with horror stories about people who had no health care coverage.  How financial catastrophe was just around the corner if their version of reform failed to pass.  You can’t trust an insurance company.  We’re here to help.

Obama did most of the talking and repeated the things the two parties agreed on…and the things they didn’t.  Occasionally my eyes glazed over and I lost track of who was talking, what they were saying, and whether I agreed with them.

But it’s really very simple.  Never once did I hear a Republican tell a story about a constituent without health care insurance.  Never once did I hear a Democrat say that their proposal was too expensive.  And that’s  the real difference.

4 Responses to “What’s the difference?”

  1. 1 Andrew February 25, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    The difference is we live in a system where there is an expectation that wealth should surround the medical industry from being a doctor to drugs to insurance to those that sue around all of the above. Perhaps if the emphasis was on good old fashioned health care (I think that is now considered socialism)we might have a shot at making this work. Revolution anyone??


  2. 2 Jon February 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    It paints the corrollary to the adage that “we have the best government that money can buy.” The rhetorical arguements presented showed that any of us can have “the best health care protection that your money can buy.” The dimension that did not seem to get much airing had something to do with ‘being one’s brother’s keeper.’ Sad.


  3. 3 Sid Cohn February 26, 2010 at 8:04 am

    As Cole Porter once observed (I think it was Cole) in song, I’m Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered by this whole ongoing malaise. I thought I was informed on this subject. I’m not.


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