Thursday, December 31, 2009
Health Care Reform: A Lasting Legacy or Not Robert Dallek, biographer of Kennedy and LBJ and skilled analyst of White House leadership, is, I believe, the best of the "presidential historians." Dallek is evenhanded, accomplished and always engaging in making the historical connections between, say Barack Obama's push this year for health care reform and Franklin Roosevelt's advocacy of Social Security in the 1930's. Dallek's op-ed piece this week in the Wall Street Journal is a fitting wrap-up of this year in presidential politics and a must read. Here is a key section: "If the reform works as intended by expanding health insurance to an additional 30 million Americans and reducing the national debt, the Democrats will pillory the Republicans for the indefinite future. The GOP's uniform opposition—only one congressman and no Republican senators supported the bill—will make it vulnerable to charges of wrong-minded thinking about the suffering of fellow citizens on a scale with Herbert Hoover's failed response to the Great Depression. That cost his party five presidential elections. "Should the bill fall short of promised gains, it will reinforce national prejudices against big government and facilitate another round of conservative Republican dominance of national politics." That pretty well sums it up. Watch for Bob Dallek's new book in the new year: The Lost Peace - Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope. HarperCollins is the publisher.