Is Health Care Obama’s Iraq?

Leaders often have a single issue or event that defines them historically. Napoleon had Waterloo. George W. Bush had Iraq. Now Obama has health care. When a leader has an obsessive focus on one issue, they can often be guilty of ignoring other viewpoints, even when good counter-arguments are made. Through the power of their position and the might of their will they can drown out any opposition. Their closest inner circle can fall victim to “group think”. This can be a recipe for disaster. Our country was not meant to have our most important decisions made by one man, which is why our founders structured our government the way they did.

Never let a good crisis go to waste

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, said you never want a serious crisis to go to waste, and he and the Obama administration have certainly lived by this motto. First, he and democrats took advantage of the economic meltdown by throwing every pet local project but the kitchen sink into a stimulus bill riddled with waste. Next, they figured they could leverage their majority in both houses, which at the time included a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the senate, to get a massive health care bill through.

Of course, Bush also took advantage of a crisis.  After we were attacked on 9/11, his administration decided it was in our country’s security interest to go into Iraq. That made no sense to most. We were not attacked by Iraq on 9/11. It was clear at the time that Saddam Hussein was not a Muslim extremist–crazy and dangerous, yes, but not crazy enough to provoke the US again, especially after 9/11. Hussein was not one to make sacrifices for a cause greater than himself, but instead was in it for himself alone.

Making a questionable case

The Iraq war seemed to be more about finishing something that felt unfinished after the first Iraqi war under the first President Bush. I believe this was the seed of the idea, and it grew from there. The administration did all they could to make a case. They tried to say there was a tie between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda. They tried to prove that there was continuing WMD development in Iraq, and Husein would be a future threat. Even that was a hard sell, because North Korea and Iran were far more likely to be a future threat than Iraq. I remember watching Colin Powell standing before the UN making the case as to why we should invade Iraq, and I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. To be fair, I think those pushing for war in the Bush administration probably thought there was WMD in Iraq, and after we went in we would find some and they would be vindicated.

Like Bush’s war, the majority of the public is not behind Obama’s overhaul of health care due to the cost it will incur to our economy and to our freedom. Most people want less government, not more, and people right now are interested in jobs and the economy. So, Obama has tried to make the case that our health care system is the cause of our economic woes. Like Bush, it is a misdirection focusing on the wrong problem and the wrong solution. Like, Bush, he and the democrats are playing fast and loose with the facts, using incomplete math to try to convince us that we can add tens of millions to the insurance rolls and somehow reduce our deficits.

Unlike Bush and the Republicans in 2002, the Democrats have not been able to pass their legislation through normal channels. They have done all they can to ram a completely partisan bill through congress, even seriously considering at one point a “deem and pass” tactic that would have avoided an up-or-down vote in the House.  They are now avoiding new debate and a potential filibuster in the senate through the questionable use of a process called reconciliation, something specifically meant for use with budgetary items, not for one of the biggest and most far-reaching pieces of legislation in our country’s history.

History will tell

In the end, George W. Bush will be defined by Iraq. No one will remember how he took charge after the attacks or how kept our country safe in the years after. No one will think about how quickly we challenged and ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan with the full support of the world. Instead, people will remember how we got mired down in a war we should never have started. Most importantly, he  will be remembered for how he wasted an opportunity to crush Al Qaeda’s momentum while the world stood firmly at our side, and instead invaded a country that had nothing to do with the attacks, turning the world against us, and emboldening terrorists everywhere.

In the same way, health care will define Obama. He will be remembered for wasting an entire year failing to get an unpopular bill passed through normal legislative channels despite owning both houses of Congress. He and the democrats will be remembered for stubbornly moving ahead anyway in an attempt to save face, resorting to political trickery to jam a bill through that most people don’t want.

My biggest fear is that Obama will be remembered as the president who destroyed a robust American health care system, and perhaps our economy in the process.

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3 Responses to “Is Health Care Obama’s Iraq?”

  • Comment from Rick Donvito

    Rick, I agree with you most whole-heartedly. However, I would add one additional fact. The “elephant in the room”, that is, why we are mired in the morass of financial instability. Health care is a problem, unemployment is a problem, education is a problem, corporate greed is a problem (human nature is always a problem), but the underlying cause is always ignored or downplayed. Except for the corporate greed, the root cause of the financial mess is always attributable to Illegal Aliens. Illegal Aliens, not illegal immigrants, have been the cause of overburdening health services, unemployment and education. 20 million humans not contributing and taking at the same time are the root causes. Statistics after statistics have proven this and still we choose to ignore it for the sake of political correctness.

    • Comment from Rick Yuzzi

      True, Rick. That’s something that will not be addressed due to political correctness, as you say, as well as political expediency. It’s obvious that this is one reason why democrats fight against laws requiring someone to present proof that they are eligible to vote, and then pass legislation that is favorable to those who are here illegally. The number of illegal aliens taking advantage of our public services is also a reason I like the Fair Tax ( That way at least, those in this country illegally will be paying into the system like the rest of us.

  • Comment from Rick Yuzzi

    Yes, it’s true that it happens on both sides. It’s funny how the party in charge always wants to do away with the filibuster and favors parliamentary shenanigans. I have a harder time being upset about tax cuts, though, where the government is giving people back a portion of their own money. They should be doing more of that and cutting expenses and waste. The big difference in this case for me is the extent of this bill, and the impact it will have on our country from now on. It is an entitlement program that will continue forever. It will quickly grow in scope, and is destined to be mismanaged like Social Security. Depending on what poll you look at, the American public is either evenly divided on government-run health care, or against it. I’m sure that all depends on how you ask the questions. Most people will agree that health care has gotten too expensive, and there needs to be changes. But, that does not require a complete overhaul. There are changes that can be made that can reduce medical costs and the costs of premiums. I don’t think that this was the time to ignore the opposition party, which is representing the 50% or more of Americans on the issue. I feel that it was pursued to this extent to salvage the last year so that Obama and the democrats can say they got something done. In the next eight months we’ll be hearing all about the positive things in the bill, but not the cost or the future problems. That will help the democrats. But, government-run health care has not passed before because it is a bad idea. Premiums and taxes will go up substantially to pay for this program, and the quality and availability of health care will go down. There is no getting around it in the end.