Obama Health Care Speech; Neighborhood Schools …

by on September 11, 2009

To the Editor:

Paul Hogarth’s insights and tone equal in finesse the President’s careful modulations. Obama offered a masterly centrist performance, elegantly cutting the loaf in half, then refining the cut. He was clear and workmanlike, and he finally owned HIS plan. But still missing was one breakthrough idea, the ice-breaker, certainly not vague medical “exchanges,” echoing discredited co-op notions. Thus, no home run, certainly no grand slam game-changer.

I still didn’t hear enough on the number one issue: how to check rising costs. Obama was still trying to be the non-partisan centrist President on a clearly partisan issue, reaching for nominal band-aids (like McCain on catastrophic coverage). But if like half the country, you no longer trust Obama on health reform, why believe his pledge against any increase in the deficit? Why believe Medicare won’t be impacted? I don’t believe he can know all this now, and frankly, his record for keeping his word is spotty at best. Specifically,

(1) Evoking George Lakoff, where were any new “frames” to allow liberal or progressive voters to press their spineless Democratic representatives. You’re right: single-payer was already lost, now we must forego the public option. I especially resented rational, caring progressives being equated, as if a fringe, with idiots blockading on “the right.” Insulting — since WE helped elect this smart, non-ideologue while extremists called him terrorist, un-American, and worse.

(2) Further, what Obama arguments countered rightwing fictions (government takeover, even death panels)? It’s not enough to call opponents liars, or deny misrepresentation; you must explain how essential “panels” will work and how to avoid abuse. Obama should have explained every system needs oversight by medical experts: you can’t use public money for every imaginable surgery or test. The issue is not whether there are panels, which exist now (a point Obama missed), but how they work. On the hot buttons, I heard little other than a refined version of Obama politics as usual.

(3) I still don’t get the President’s fawning courtesy to incorrigible Republicans. Why not push the national disgrace aspects, “Join us, or like GOP dinosaurs against Medicare, get cemented on the wrong side of history?” I have not observed Obama’s mastery of the larger, ongoing political-election narrative, that looks back and forth simultaneously, that uses the present to frame the future. When does he learn to define party fights in Democratic terms, in language to berate wingnuts. He didn’t make health care a hill to die on, not just today but for the next four years, nor define the opposition in his terms, as Republicans have done so well in theirs. That skill needs development.

Robert Becker
Mendocino CA

To the Editor:

This is so much BS! Neighborhood schools does several things not addressed in this poorly written article.

First, Neighborhood school builds community. Families living in an area can get to know one another. Forcing a student to “commute” across town does not.

Second, Neighborhood schools are more green. Yep, you’re “liberal” and believe in global warming? Then why force students to travel across town on either Muni, or more likely, have parents drive their kids. Instead of being able to walk to school, parents end up driving them thus using more gas and polluting the air.

Finally, SFUSD gets money for each day a student attends class. However, the article fails to address the fact that the current school district’s “diversity” policy is the main reason why OVER 30% of all school age children attend private schools. I’m not talking about the students who attend the fancy, dancy $25K/year private schools. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of students attending small parochial schools that cost around $8-12K/year. Many families see these as valid alternatives to driving “across town” and are willing to make the sacrifice to send their children to these private schools. End result, SFUSD loses money since these children are not enrolled.

Note, my daughters go to an excellent public school. Unfortunately, my oldest is now in the 5th grade and its a crapshoot as to whether she can get in to the middle school that is right down the hill from us. I will be applying to private schools and hoping for the best. Neighborhood schools NOW!

Name Withheld

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