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The nation's senior Black congressman fears Barack Obama is in danger of becoming a one-term president. Obama's health care proposal is “crap,” says Detroit's John Conyers, and Obama loses whether it passes or fails.
Conyers: “There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama.”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Progressive congresspersons may wind up voting against Obama on health care.”
Congressman John Conyers says Barack Obama’s stance on health care has been wrong, and it’s going to cost the president “big time.” It might even cost Obama his second term in the White House.
Conyers gave that assessment at Washington’s Busboys and Poets restaurant, bookstore and bar, where the Progressive Democrats of America were celebrating their fifth anniversary. Conyers is the Congressional Black Caucus’s longest serving member, having represented Detroit since 1964, when Obama was a three-year-old. He’s also one of the most consistently progressive members of the House, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of single payer health care bill H.R. 676 – legislation the White House has done its best to smother. Obama once gave lip service to single payer health care, but as president has staked his reputation on a mishmash of corporate schemes and deals-with-the-devil masquerading as health care reform – a thoroughly confused and conflicted legislative concoction that Conyers describes, simply, as “crap.”
Conyers suggests that, at the end of the legislative process, progressive congresspersons may wind up voting against Obama on health carebecause the bill will be simply too bad for advocates of real reform to support.
Busboys and Poets is a favored gathering place for progressives of all races. On the January night last year when Obama won the South Carolina primary, the place was noisier and more boisterous than anybody’s sports bar – so many deliriously hopeful faces, such soaring expectations. Now, John Conyers was telling many of the same people: “There is no one more disappointed than I am in Barack Obama.”
“We’ve got to tell Obama now, or he’ll be a one term president.”
The president and his supporters often throw around the old cliché about not letting the “perfect become the enemy of the good.” That’s their way of defending the fatal compromises Obama keeps making with the right-wing before the fight has even begun. Whether because of lack of gumption or lack of real commitment on Obama’s part, this refusal to confront Power is what has brought us to the current health care debacle in Congress. It’s not a matter of the perfect being the enemy of the good, but that the health care legislation shaped by the White House and its allies in Congress is just no damn good.
As disappointed as Conyers is with Obama, he still feels compelled to blame someone else for Obama’s health care fiasco. It’s White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s fault, says the congressman. Emanuel wants to pass any kind of health care bill, “anything just to say we did” pass something.
Whether the villainous Rahm Emanuel is to blame or it’s Obama’s own fault, the president will pay a steep political price, says Conyers. If he passes a “weak bill,” Obama loses, and if no bill passes, he loses. Conyers says he’s speaking out in such stark terms because, “we’ve got to tell Obama now, or he’ll be a one term president.”
The truth is, Obama killed the prospects for real health care reform when, no sooner than he had taken the oath of office, he began threatening to cut Medicare and attempting to marginalize single payer advocates like John Conyers. What begins badly, usually ends badly.
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