A Health Care Rant

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I didn't follow this race that closely until the end, so I'm unequipped to give any sort of serious diagnosis. I've followed health care reform a little more closely, and the one thing that sticks out in my mind is the time wasted while the Gang of Six came up with a bill. It's clear, by now, that, with the possible exception of Olympia Snowe, the GOP senators were basically stalling.

I get the optics of bipartisanship. I also get the need to show you aren't in the pocket of liberals. As a liberal I'm fine with that--as long as it works. So if Obama needs to tell the country that Chuck Grassley is seriously working for health care reform, even as Grassley is calling him "intellectually dishonest," it's fine if, among other things, we're going to get health insurance for Americas at 400 percent above the poverty line. If he does that and gets nothing, it's just inept.

But if we lose health care, having given up on single-payer, having given up the public option, have given up the Medicare buy in. If we lose health care having watched Harry Reid claim Joe Lieberman was "the least of his problems" when he should have known he was among the biggest. If we lose and still have to suffer lectures on fake centrism from Evan Bayh, as a liberal and an Obama supporter, you're left wondering what it was all for.

I don't agree with Anthony Weiner renewing the call to kill the bill. As I've said, I live around exact kind of people who need this bill the most. But I don't know how you look at this process and conclude that it was well-managed by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama. I feel like I'm watching a long, extravagant, wedding ceremony and increasingly getting the sense that someone is going to be left at the altar.

Perhaps I am wrong, and all the pageantry and delay was essential. But I'm not really seeing how.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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