Penning the lead story for the “Yes He Can (But He Sure Hasn't Yet)” Newsweek cover, “A Liberal's Survival Guide,” Anna Quindlen defended President Obama from liberal complaints he's not enacting liberal policies fast enough as she explained that he's “saddled” by the “incremental” constitutional structure, but she fretted: “Universal health care is the area in which the gap between what's needed and what's likely is most glaring, and the limitations of the president's power most apparent.” Not hesitating to share her opinion, Quindlen despaired:
It is dispiriting to watch the cheerleaders of American exceptionalism pound their chests and insist that our citizens do not need the kind of system that virtually every other developed nation finds workable....Framing her piece in the November 2 edition of the magazine, “Hope Springs Eternal: Assessing a Young Presidency,” Quindlen proposed:
As elected officials posture and temporize, families are bankrupted by health-care costs and forgo treatment they can't afford. Statistical measures of the national health, from life expectancy to infant mortality, continue to be substandard. And because we have that system of checks and balances, in which movement usually happens slowly and sporadically, a great need for sweeping reform may be met with a jury-rigged bill neither sufficiently deep nor broad, which perhaps someday will give way to a better one, and then eventually a truly good one.
This is a country that often has transformational ambitions but is saddled with an incremental system, a nation built on revolution, then engineered so the revolutionary can rarely take hold.
Checks and balances: that's how we learn about it in social-studies class, and in theory it is meant to guard against a despotic executive, a wild-eyed legislature, an overweening judiciary. And it's also meant to safeguard the rights of the individual...But what our system has meant during the poisonous partisan civil war that has paralyzed Washington in recent years is that very little of the big stuff gets done. It simply can't.