Washington Post's Pearlstein: Passing Health Bill Will 'Restore...Trust and Confidence in Ourselves'

“It's shaping up to be a great weekend here in Washington,” Washington Post business section columnist Steven Pearlstein proclaimed in a piece in Friday's newspaper, and not because of the “spectacular weather,” but because of the likely “vote in the House that would finally have the United States join the rest of the industrialized world in offering health insurance to all its citizens.”

Pearlstein, a former reporter who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, concluded his column by asserting passage would prove Washington is capable of “solving” a major problem and by indulging in self-congratulatory ruminating about how such success would “restore...trust and confidence in ourselves.” More like trust and confidence by journalists in their own influence. His final paragraph:
Most of all, enacting health-care reform would be a desperately needed victory for a political system teetering on the verge of breakdown. Years of polarization, partisanship and stalemate have led to a widespread and cynical belief that Washington is simply incapable of solving any major problem. Passing a health-care reform bill would restore not only a measure of trust and confidence in our political process but also, more significantly, trust and confidence in ourselves.
An excerpt from Pearlstein's March 19 column. Headline online: “As passage of health reform nears, a historic chance to help fix Washington, too.” Headline on page A19 of the real newspaper: “Finally in reach, health-care reform could help mend Washington, too.”
It's shaping up to be a great weekend here in Washington.

I'm not just talking about the spectacular weather or another upset-filled NCAA basketball tournament. I'm talking about the prospect of a quasi-climactic vote in the House that would finally have the United States join the rest of the industrialized world in offering health insurance to all its citizens....

What strikes me about the lead-up to this weekend's health-care vote in the House is how quiet things actually are.

If, as Republicans would have us believe, Americans are so up in arms about the prospect of "Obamacare," why aren't there angry hordes marching on the Mall or jamming the halls of the Rayburn Building?

If the plan really represents a wholesale government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, why are so many associations representing private doctors, hospitals and drugmakers either supporting the legislation or staying relatively neutral?

And if this Democratic version of health reform is such a threat to economic prosperity, why are stocks, bonds and the dollar all rising this week as odds of passage increase?...

Although Republicans are not wrong in declaring that "Obamacare" represents a significant change in the social compact, it falls well short of the European-style socialism they fear. In a uniquely American arrangement, health care would become both a personal right and a public responsibility, one shared jointly by workers, individuals and the government.

Over the past year, anyone following the health-care drama has been tempted, at various points, to question the judgment and the leadership of President Obama, his staff and the Democratic leaders in Congress. Should they succeed this weekend, however, there is no disputing that it will be a remarkable political achievement, the result of a combination of focus, determination, flexibility and patience not seen since the early Reagan years.

Most of all, enacting health-care reform would be a desperately needed victory for a political system teetering on the verge of breakdown. Years of polarization, partisanship and stalemate have led to a widespread and cynical belief that Washington is simply incapable of solving any major problem. Passing a health-care reform bill would restore not only a measure of trust and confidence in our political process but also, more significantly, trust and confidence in ourselves.
Pearlstein in January: “Brown's Win Evidence of 'Wretched' State of the Union, Whines Washington Post's Pearlstein

Pearlstein in August: “Health Reform Threatened by Conservatives' Anti-Tax Fantasy

And: “Pearlstein Smears GOP as 'Political Terrorists' on Health Care, But His Own Data Is Dubious
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center