Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Blogs are strange beasts on occasion. By noting that I thought that Barack Obama’s “Harry and Louise II” ads were despicable and calling for him to apologize — predictably, I got a number of emails accusing me of bias towards Hillary Clinton. These folks apparently haven’t paid much attention to my commentary about Obama vs HRC on Cuba, or Hillary’s vote on the IRGC Kyl/Lieberman amendment, or more recently — my view that the race is essentially over and that Obama has most likely won the Democratic nomination and that a different kind of struggle is taking place at the moment.
But let’s set all that aside. On a policy basis, I completely agree with Hillary Clinton’s perspective on health care — and I entirely disagree that Barack Obama’s plan achieves universal coverage or can even aspire to because of the high cost of covering American citizens on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum without inclusion of the middle class Americans who can afford insurance but elect not to get it.
This is a disagreement. There are other matters I disagree with Obama and Clinton about — and other things that get my applause and support.
But the Harry and Louise ads have also turned the stomachs of many of Obama’s own policy staff. They are controversial — and he should hear from those of in civil society that they harm his profile.
For those who argue that turnabout is fair play and that the Clintons should be apologizing for things they have done before Obama does, fine. Chase that windmill. I think that the Clintons have done a number of things wrong — and that were unsavory — but guess what? They are losing this race. . .
This isn’t about the Clintons and what they have done or not done to Obama. It is the signal that Barack Obama, who I think will be the Democratic nominee, is sending about the politics of health care coverage.
I am a huge fan of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle — who has campaigned harder for Barack Obama than just about everyone except Barack’s wife Michelle.
I recently received Daschle’s excellent new book out this weekend in bookstores titled CRITICAL: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis. I think that Daschle’s thinking about health care and the gridlocked politics in the debate are essential reading.
But I found this clip in his final chapter worth emphasizing:
If the next president is dedicated to reform, he or she can use the formidable power of the White House to create a sense of urgency on this issue and forge a consensus on how to move forward. This means going on the offensive; we cannot wait for the next “Harry and Louise” ad to define the debate. We cannot assume that the public recognizes the distortions and fallacies peddled by reform opponents; we have to educate people on the emptiness of antireform rhetoric.
Tom Daschle supports Barack Obama — and I know Obama takes Daschle and his views very seriously. Something tells me that this “Harry and Louise II” ad is not real Obama but is being driven by other string-pullers in his campaign. I hope I’m not wrong about this.
In any case, I think that people need to look beyond the tit-for-tat gaming between Obama and Clinton and get their heads around the policy parameters at stake. Some who support Obama’s position think that the politics of wage garnishing is a loser. Those who support true universal coverage say that there can’t be a loophole for those without coverage to just free-ride the system until they are sick. These are the terms of debate.
But in this case, I think Tom Daschle sets the right tone — and it’s the tone that both candidates should seek to achieve.
— Steve Clemons