It was Lew Wallace (1827-1905) who said, “Beauty is altogether in the eye of the beholder.”
Since I began getting involved in Washington, DC with the debate over healthcare reform a number of years ago, I have wondered more and more about how we have arrived at such a place that every issue, every decision, every need is met with such partisan, fractional, divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. Today it seems that there are no discussions on any issue that doesn’t revert to, “they said this, and what they really mean, is that.” Or, you can hear a statement from one side or the other to the effect that, “It’s clear that their agenda is to do X, Y or Z to harm us.” Any, and all, of these statements amount to “doodly squat” as Granny Hawkins would say! – a prize to anyone who knows this reference — without using the internet!
Spin is not a new concept
Nothing related to any issue facing our national interest today is devoid of some spin to gain advantage on some other tangential issue–related or not. Not to pick on any one side, or the other, but how often do we now hear the phrase, unfortunately most recently attributed to Rahm Emmanuel, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Or to be fair, the statement by Senator McConnell that the prime goal of republicans is to defeat the president. If you think Mr. Emmanuel or Mr. McConnell are the first to utter these kinds of ideas, that they meant them completely literally, or that it is not a practice by each side of the political aisle, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I am willing to sell you; if you can convince me you deserve it!
If you think hyper-partisanship and gridlock are new I again encourage readers to go to Google Books and look up some of the old papers from the late 1800s and early 1900s and read what was going on then. There are surprising similarities.
Agenda based legislation now the norm
During the drive for healthcare reform there were a series of changes to the goals of the legislation that occurred as the process spread to one committee after another. Senator Kennedy began the current process of healthcare reform in the wake of the disastrous attempt during the Clinton administration. The bill that he authored just prior to his death was the result of his long-term attempt to find some legislation that would be acceptable to people on both sides and improve the healthcare system. The HELP bill, while clearly not likely to have conservatives jump up and proclaim it a triumph of modern legislation, was still a bill that he clearly had worked hard on to find areas of support from his political opponents and an honest attempt to find methods to improve the healthcare system. Continue reading