The old song was swimming around in my head, and I knew I'd have to turn it into a post: Stuck in the Middle With You, a 1972 hit by the Scottish group Stealers Wheel (lyrics available here). Some may remember the refrain.
President Obama was only about 9 years old when the record came out, so it may not have been on his mind when presiding over the Bipartisan Health Care Meeting this past week. But the man deserves sainthood for his calm.
Actually, the line about "clowns to the left" is not fair, and may not be accurate, if The Nation's John Nichols is to be believed: he calls them and other advocates of Medicare-for-all or single-payer the "Missing Voices at the Healthcare Summit." I agree that single-payer should have been seriously considered all along, but it never had a chance after "death panel" voodoo had taken hold last summer.
But "jokers to the right" there were aplenty, and like Dana Milbank, I wish that the moderate Presidential moderator had smacked some of them down when they got ornery.
Here's one of the things that bother me about the post-summit spin coming from the Democrats: the notion that
At the meeting, both sides found common ground on critical issues including
o Eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid
o Reforming medical malpractice laws
o Providing more choices in coverage for individuals and the option to pool coverage for small businesses
o Reforming the insurance market
"Common ground?" Why should the Republicans be given any credit for seeming reasonable, when all indications are that they will continue to oppose any changes to the broken system? If reform passes, it will be thanks to Democratic votes, and Democratic votes alone.
When the Republicans say "start over" on health care reform, that is not "common ground." It's code for grind to a halt. Pass the bill, then go on to these nice "common ground" points in Step 2, from a position of strength.