Obama and Health Care: Leadership and Words Matter

Day is off to a great start. Woke up, scanned the Internet sites, quaffed a pot full of  coffee, and dragged my dead foot and leg over five miles of concrete. Then an hour or so later the sun did come up. I guess Obama’s talk on education yesterday to students around the nation didn’t end life as we know it after all. (See Los Angeles Times, “Bipartisan praise for Obama’s school speech.”)

Here’s hoping for an even better result tonight when the Prez opines on health care. (Tons of stories on this today. Here’s one: USA Today, “Obama to detail health care vision.”)

Ah, the vision thing. Well, if Obama is going to share his vision on health-care reform, let’s hope he does it with more clarity, meaning and enthusiasm than most (all?) mission and vision statements prepared by companies, universities and so on. Most organizations reduce the idea of vision to a single word: mush.

We need more from President Obama on this critical issue of health care. We need to understand his vision — expressed clearly, in a way that provides meaning to a subject that is terribly complex, and with enthusiasm.

But most of all we need his leadership. We need to trust that he is acting in the nation’s best interest — and not in the narrow self-interest of his own re-election or that of the Dems in Congress.

And providing leadership — based on trust — represents a more difficult challenge, given the contentious nature of the debate on both sides of the health care issue and the fact that the big-money interests — health insurers, medical establishment, drug companies and so on — are not going to fade away quietly or gently.

There are a number of articles making their way around the blogosphere this morning about what to look for in Obama’s speech tonight. Try Chris Cillizza — WaPo — “Morning Fix: What Obama Should Say.” Or David M. Herszenhorn — NYT — “How to Watch the Speech.”

For me, all I want to know is what Obama stands for, what he wants to see in health-care legislation and why it is in the best interest of the nation. And I want him to tell me that clearly, in a way that I can understand WTF this is all about, and with enthusiasm.

And by the way, it’s possible that at the same time the Prez hits the airwaves Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters will be smacking the tennis ball at each other in the quarterfinals of the U.S.Open. Or maybe it will be the match featuring Melanie Oudin, the teenager from Georgia who has become the surprise attraction of the tournament. Oh well.

I guess I’ll watch the Prez.

The ball on health care, after all, is now in his court.


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