The late David Rosenbaum of the New York Times, one of the longest-serving true journalists in the nation's capital, was a master at reading, digesting and analyzing the important legislation in Congress.
Oh, how we need him today!
The House of Representatives has passed a massive (nearly 2,000 pages) bill designed to provide health insurance for Americans regardless of their ability to pay, and prohibit some of the worst practices of the private health insurance industry such as denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or family health history.
I wonder if any single legislator who voted late Saturday night for or against the bill had read and understood it the way David understood the legislation he wrote about so clearly and lucidly. I doubt it.
The media accounts don't really tell us much, either, and what they do say is suspect given today's media reliance on spin, sound bites, handouts and propaganda. So it's hard to work up much jubilation because our elected representatitives -- at last! -- at last! -- seem to have taken a meaningful step toward giving our citizens the kind of health care that citizens of most other civilized democracies have long taken for granted.
I share the feelings of my friend and sometime contributor, Mort Persky: "Lord, I hope it's a good bill that leads to an even better bill, but gotta be highly skeptical."
Until we can flyspeck the thing, neither he nor I will know if it's a "good bill," nor will our fellow citizens. The mindless lemmings of the right will parrot Limbaugh and Beck and Boehner and other Republican meatheads, prattling about "government takeover" and what-all, as if they actually knew something about the bill. But their vacuous barnyard leavings don't matter.
What matters is whether some of our elected representatives actually read every line of the legislation, and its Senate counterpart when that emerges, with as much thought, care and objectivity as David Rosenbaum once did. If that were to happen, perhaps another Republican mind or two would see what Rep. Joseph Cao, a first-term Republican from New Orleans, saw: that the importance of health care transcends party politics. He voted "yes" last night. Thirty-nine Democrats, including one who represents my district, voted against health care for all. There are like-minded Democrats in the Senate.
Will any of them see the light of reason? Most of them won't even bother to read and analyze what they're ranting against.
Would that David were still around to tell them.