A Time for Choosing

The health care reform debate has been mired by the deliberate distribution of misinformation and the spectacle of petty politics, the climax of which occurred in August during town hall meetings that bordered on chaos.  In his speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama sent a clear signal to our elected officials:  Either act like an adult, or get out of the way.  Health care reform is going to happen, and it’s going to happen now.

The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

During his speech, President Obama personified the two very distinct paths available to his conservative critics by drawing a distinction between his challengers in the 2008 election.  Moments after singling out Sen. John McCain for the bipartisan manner in which he worked on solutions to pressing problems, the President chastised his running mate, Sarah Palin (without naming her), for spreading the “cynical and irresponsible” lie that the legislation creates death panels to hasten the death of senior citizens.

As if the choice before Republicans was not adequately made apparent, Congressman Wilson’s (S.C.) shout from the gallery (“You’re a liar”) reinforced the distinction between respectful, rational public servants with legitimate concerns and constructive solutions and the fire-breathing fanatics that the President has no intention of dealing with.  The self-destructive nature of such partisan fanatics was made immediately apparent after the President’s speech when reactions to the outburst completely overshadowed the official Republican response delivered by Rep. Boustany of Louisiana.

By leaving the door open on conservative provisions, including tort reform, the President signaled to conservatives who want to act like adults that there remains a seat at the bargaining table for them.  Whether or not any Republican congressmen turn their backs on the juveniles in their ranks and pull up a chair is yet to be seen.  Indeed, it is a time for choosing.



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