It's amazing how deeply we Americans disdain the political process, the gradual gathering of support for a plan of action, the slow work of building consensus, the need to appear evenhanded and fair while at the same time, trying to expedite a bill that can actually get passed. National reform is painstaking, very un-sexy, and you don't get to say "Go ahead, make my day" very often.
To achieve national reform, the president must deploy a mixture of sticks and carrots, of fear and friendship. He must selectively extend the promise of support or the threat of opposition to more than 500 elected individuals who don't see the world the way he does. If he steps over his opponents, he's accused of bullying and risks alienating their supporters. If he's too conciliatory, his allies accuse him of watering down reform.
Obama wants health reform. Everyone except Republican leadership wants health reform. But the president pretty much has to build it one congressman at a time. The best he can do is make a clear case for a public health insurance option and hope people listen to the facts. His allies say that it's time the president practiced a bit of arm twisting and instilled serious party loyalty. They'll point out that the Bush-led White House did not brook dissent from rank and file Republicans. I'd respond that if Obama were a Republican, he'd have vilified his opponents months ago, calling them unpatriotic, immoral, a threat to national security, and associating them with terrorists. That's not his style, and it never will be.
We have a President who expresses himself quite well, and hopes people listen. Will that be enough? We'll see.
Yesterday (Thursday, Aug 27th), I heard Tim Spencer on Rock 103 announce: "Ted Kennedy has now been sober for 36 hours."
I just wanted to let Spencer and the station owners, and especially the sponsors of Rock 103 know these are the last words I will ever hear Spencer or anyone else at Rock 103 speak. Adios to a landmark on Memphis radio, you're dead to me.
Olive Branch, Mississippi
Rose and Calipari
To John Branston's comments on Derrick Rose (City Beat, August 27th issue), I say Amen. It's all very fine to protect Rose's name as the student involved and not make him part of the university's response to this fiasco. But now Derrick Rose is an adult and a millionaire and he should be made to face the music. I have no doubt that the guiltiest parties in this mess are Rose and John Calipari, and they are gonna walk away clean, and with more money than most of us have ever dreamed of.
Health care reform may keep me up at night, and the economy may gray my hair while my business struggles, but, dammit, Tiger basketball has given me pleasure for decades, and I hate what happened to our magical season at the hands of a couple of win-at-all-costs, show-me-the-money schnooks.
In his column (Editor's Note, August 27th issue), Bruce VanWyngarden complained about e-mails that he received from people who did not like a previous editorial that he wrote about his encounter with "rabid conservatives" on the beach during his recent vacation in Florida. He then proceeded to call conservatives the "alternative universe of angry Americans" who "represent the past," worship guns, use simplistic slogans to shut down debate, "call the President a socialist, a fascist, a Nazi," are intolerant of others and their beliefs, and represent a "shrinking slice of the electorate." This is, of course, nonsense.
I have had the sticker supporting a conservative candidate "keyed" along with the paint on my car, apparently by someone who did not agree with my political philosophy. I have read articles and watched television programs where journalists slanted stories to misrepresent, mischaracterize, and denigrate conservatives and conservative values. I have seen leftist demonstrators attempt to stop conservatives from expressing their views by chanting simplistic slogans like "No Blood For Oil," cowardly throwing pies and other objects at conservative speakers, and calling President Bush a fascist and a Nazi. Did VanWyngarden think that the right would not adopt the tactics of the left, especially when they seemed to work so well during the last election?
I do not support the use of these tactics by anyone, but things are unlikely to change as American politics have always been venomous. So VanWyngarden will probably need to develop a thicker skin regarding his e-mail problem.