It was sort of a "Where did he go wrong and what should he do now?" theme addressed by three fine writers - Walter Isaacson, Peggy Noonan and Robert Caro.
Mr. Caro asserted, "If Obama backs away from healthcare, he will have lost his ideals."
On a personal note, I am a huge fan of Mr. Caro's work on LBJ. (I wish he'd complete his book on the final years of Johnson's life soon.) However, some might take exception with his reference today, to the "fifty million" Americans without health insurance, for two reasons.
First, many tend to use interchangeably, the notion of "care and insurance" as Mr. Caro did, which obscures the debate.
Second, the "fifty million" figure needs to be deconstructed for veracity and put it into perspective for a nation of 308 million people. When one looks at "the number" which appears to be closer to 45 million than 50 million, and subtracts from it, the number of people falling under one of the following conditions:
- eligible for free or heavily subsidized health insurance, but won't take it
- takes free or heavily subsidized health insurance but reports to census takers they have no insurance
- can well afford traditional (non-subsidized) insurance, but chooses not to buy it
- are not American citizens
Perhaps we need not nationalize 1/6th of our economy against the wishes of most Americans to produce a policy that does nothing to lower costs. Market reforms, tort reforms, increased patient responsibility and other measures would lower costs and improve the system.
Walter Isaacson (author of a critical but engrossing biography of Henry Kissinger) may have made the most practical prescription on today's program when he concluded, "The country is best governed and transformed from the center."
In time we'll know if Mr. Obama will heed this advice and succeed, or choose to double down on the current course.