The media would have you and I to believe that health reform has failed once again. Those on the right are already rushing the field declaring victory before the clock has finished winding down. The thing is, the game’s not over. As I wrote back in September, President Obama faced third-and-long on the eve of his address to the nation on health reform. Feel free to disagree, but I think–given the level of complete and utter tea-baggery that dominated the news throughout all of August–that he was able to get the first down. Health reform got back on track. Things were moving. Heck, the House passed a bill, and then the Senate followed suit. It looked like a Democratic “touchdown” was a near certainty.
But the Republican opposition is strong–if only because it remains so obstinate–and when Scott Brown picked up the seat in Massachusetts, the game-winning drive seemed to stall right in the red zone. If you ask me, I think it’s fourth and goal. That means that there’s no more room for progressing to another political “first down.” Congress and the President are down to their last chance: Either they finish the drill and punch one through–enacting health reform–or they leave defeated after having possessed nearly unfathomable momentum.
As in football, there are options: run it, pass it, QB sneak, you get the idea. The only thing that really matters is that the offense gets on the same page, because the defense has proven itself a unified opposition. Of course, there’s the possibility that even the most well-designed play will fall short of paydirt. But if that happens, at least the party can leave with its head held high. The other option, taking a knee and letting time expire, shouldn’t be in the playbook at all.
If you want a good lesson in the history of health reform, and of two starkly different reactions to Republican obstructionism, this piece by Brown University’s Jim Morone is a must-read. It all comes down to a simple choice: fight like hell or go home.