ACA + Obama’s Leadership & Democratic Saboteurs (GOP tbs)*

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Posted on September 23, 2013 by Ruth O’Brien

American health reform is health-insurance reform.  Please.  Unless you were a child at the time, we all know this.  So Robert Pear should not lead in one of our most distinguished papers of record by pointing out that “in many states . . . smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance” will be available to consumers under the Affordable Care Act.  These states extend “from California to Illinois to New Hampshire and include many politically and regionally different states in between (red, blue, and purple).  Again, it’s duh.

What did folks expect?  When President Barack Obama bludgeoned Congress into passing ACA in 2010, it was members from his own party and his closest advisors from his own White House team during his 100 days that betrayed him.  It was this side of the aisle and these advisors, among others (Timothy, Larry, Rahm, and even David A.), who put their President between two legislative stools and then condemned his leadership skills.  (The tell-all books and leaked stories didn’t take very long after all.)

Democrats or members of his own political party  formerly known as progressiveDemocrats –- who now either call themselves bold Democrats or are re-embracing the earlier term “liberal,” ensured that health-care reform was health-insurance reform, undermining President Barack Obama’s original vision.  Obama’s not only a lose-lose leader, but he’s got a lose-lose legacy issue if the GOP and the slightly obstructionist Democrats stay in cahoots and get their way.

The Democrats are not the only ones into name changes, by the way.  As I cover in Out of Many, One, not even Obama’s closest supporters called it the Affordable Care Act or the ACA (deemed in a derogatory way to denigrate (word intended ironically)).

In the “right” circles, “Obamacare” is said with a haha in the middle — “Obama — are you kidding — cares?”  The Obama administration, having lost that battle, decided to own it.  It was a defensive move; they hoped to undermine the underminers.  Obamacare couldn’t be culturally referenced to bash or denigrate his leadership.

But dare I digress.  When I read comprehensive and well-researched articles in either theNew York Times or the Washington Post that neglect our recent history or the legislative history of universal health care, I balk.  Then I get my hands dirty searching for the rest of the story, as well as the cultural context. Where’s the legislative history?  What about the cultural context?

Don’t tell me these two papers of note are going to be “presentist.” Surely these esteemed political journalists who write books using their access are not rewriting history from their own present perspective, tainted by their current (not political but editorial) agenda.  And who cares if the Times, the Post, and the Wall Street Journal often call it differently?

Information is not about competition.  Let’s get the spin, at least, off the front page and put news “analysis” where it belongs — on the editorial page.

Let’s have our papers of record refresh their collective readership’s memory.  We do all have a tendency to forget — that the ACA’s “issues” are not limited to the GOP’s shameless attempts to harm the vulnerable, but they are also because of legislative folks like Nancy (Pelosi), who failed to back Obama when he needed backing, so Kathleen Sebelius had to save the day.

*to be sure

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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