National Commentary

Slugging it Out for the ‘Public Opinion’

bentonmugDon’t be fooled. The entire legacy and network of America’s dominant ruling class behind the scenes is in a state of nail-biting panic.
Behind the angry and strident rhetoric debunking and denouncing President Obama’s health care push are thousands of nervous, agitated, overly-privileged “stupid white men” (to borrow Michael Moore’s term, although it could hardly be trademarked).

bentonmugDon’t be fooled. The entire legacy and network of America’s dominant ruling class behind the scenes is in a state of nail-biting panic.
Behind the angry and strident rhetoric debunking and denouncing President Obama’s health care push are thousands of nervous, agitated, overly-privileged “stupid white men” (to borrow Michael Moore’s term, although it could hardly be trademarked).
Obama came back from his trip to Russia, Italy and Africa loaded for bear. One could imagine that it was his stop-over in Ghana, and his reflections on what he saw there, that caused some deep stirrings in his soul. One could imagine what was going through his head and his heart as he tried dozing aboard Air Force One on the trip back across the Atlantic to home.
Ghana was a reminder for Obama of his roots, and of how the adversaries he faces in the fight for his reform agenda at home are tied to the global economic policies of not only those adversaries’ ancestors, but also of their current financial connections that have looted the continent of Africa, inhibited its development, and kept it in hopeless poverty.
Such a reminder would have been made more sensuous by its contrast, and connection, to the meetings with the array of powerful heads of state in Moscow, at the G-7 in Rome, and with the Pope, that immediately preceded the stop in Accra.
Last week, within a day of getting off the helicopter that brought him from Andrews Air Force Base to the south lawn of the White House, Obama was in front of a microphone in Rose Garden.
It was Monday, July 13, and Obama came out on a sunny morning to announce his nomination of Dr. Regina Benjamin as Surgeon General.
The day before, the pundits on the Sunday morning talk show circuit were almost unanimous in suggesting that Obama had chosen to take a back seat on the health care fight by letting his Democratic colleagues in Congress fight it out. To the Republicans, they saw in that a sign of weakness for Obama.
As usual, they were clueless. They had no idea what was in store.
Obama put off introducing Dr. Benjamin for some remarks about health care reform. They were not just remarks, they were a powerful shot across the bow.
“I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone,” he said. “We are going to get this (health care reform) done. Inaction is not an option. And for those nay-sayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don’t bet against us.”
He concluded, “I understand people are a little nervous and a little scared about making change. The muscles in this town to bring about big change are a little atrophied, but we’re whipping folks back into shape. We are going to get this done.”
So, the words to pay attention to in those sentences are, “on notice,” “don’t bet against us,” and “whipping.”
Those are fighting words, if ever there are ones: “You are on notice, cross me, and I will whip your ass!” (Without a doubt, I am sure the president will deny, publicly, he intended to mean it just that way).
But he has been unrelenting since that day, getting in front of microphones, grabbing the all-news networks’ airtime, using his weekly radio address, and this week holding another major, prime-time press conference from the East Room of the White House, to punch, punch, jab and punch relentlessly.
This president is giving it everything he has to accomplish one of the most monumental achievements in the history of the nation, and he is so close to doing it, he can taste it.
Derision and delay are the tactics commonly used to forestall, with an intention to defeat, something of this magnitude. As long as the “public option” is included in the reform, it will represent a huge defeat for the nation’s elites, the popping of a financial bubble of greed and privilege that has kept American poor and middle class families lacking for its most basic and vital need, its basic health.
It’s not about “how to pay for it,” it’s all about the “public option” component, that which will most put the lie to the alleged need for the inflated and ballooning costs of health insurance.
Keep on slugging, Mr. President.
Nicholas Benton may be e-mailed at [email protected]