Face the Nation last Sunday had Colin Powell as their guest. He made an interesting point that seemed spot on to me when it comes to the HCR debate. He was asked if President Obama had tried to do too much in his first year and said (emphasis added):
COLIN POWELL: You know, the–if I could use my military experience again, and then I’ll get to my political and diplomatic experience. But we’re taught have a main attack. What you’re really after. What’s most important. Then you could have a secondary attack. And you can have economy of force operations where you keep your eye on it but you don’t jump into it. And the main attack the American people wanted to see him lead, and I hear it everywhere I go–fix the economy; fix the mortgage system; fix the credit problem; get us our jobs back; get trade moving.
Later in the conversation he returned to the point with greater emphasis:
COLIN POWELL: But you have to make it clear what we’re trying to achieve and what the main attack is. You talk about our history. In Philadelphia, when they were writing the Constitution, the great problem they had was what to do with slavery. And, they essentially said the main attack has to be creating a country, not solving the problem of slavery, one of the great compromises in our history. And so, sooner or later, no matter how strongly you feel about issues, you’ve got to find areas of compromise to keep the country moving forward.
I think this makes the progressive case for just passing the damn HCR bill and moving on. It will be compromised legislation–it always is and always has been the case when it comes to legislative progress in America. You start and then you build upon the foundation that you create. No bill: no foundation. The perfect is always the enemy of the good. Some flair-up issues are only distractions–secondary battles that are not worth losing the core goal over. The Public Option is one of those secondary battles. It is worth fighting for but not worth losing or giving up on HCR if you can not get the votes to pass a PO. HRC is too important for such tantrums, we need this change.
Any attempt to get the economy going again can not happen if we do not deal with HCR. It must be done. It is the core strategic goal at the moment, but it is not the main event.
The core struggle is proving that Government can work–this is the main battle. Restoring functionality and the usefulness of government in solving problems is the main battle that President Obama is fighting. Meanwhile, Republicans are focused on perpetuating failure as the only possible legacy of government. They seek to ensure that America is a failed and ungovernable state because that is a better environment for the grifters who control the GOP and the modern conservative movement. This endless Republican embrace of failure as success should be an easy thing to defeat, but way too many Democrats are easily distracted by this or that secondary battle. Minor battles like the fight over a PO distracts attention from the main battle like passing HCR and proving that government can actually work. These minor battles always risk handing the GOP yet another “government can only fail” victory–especially when they are engaged prematurely.
Colin Powell has a lot to answer for due to his misplaced loyalty to Bush the younger. Still it was nice to hear him finally be an honest voice in Washington. Better late than never.
We shall see if the Democrats in Congress have the backbone to pass HCR and get serious about doing the work they were elected to do. It should be easy, but they are always distracted by so many shiny objects. I hope the meeting on Thursday will work. We shall see.
ps: feel free to use this ramble as an open thread