On The Fire In Obama’s Soul for Health Care Reform
Jim Marone is chairman of the political science department at Brown and author, with David Blumenthal of the Harvard Medical School, of The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office. He was a guest this week on Radio Open Source:
Health policy, Marone argues persuasively, lays bare the soul as well as the working temperament of presidents as almost nothing else does. Our presidents tend to be “sick men,” he writes, with complex medical histories and poorer health than American males in general. But in fact they all have two health stories: first of their own submerged afflictions (FDR’s polio, Eisenhower’s grave heart problems, Kennedy’s wrecked adrenal system and drug dependency) and then: the family memories of health and medicine (Ike’s agitation about his mother-in-law’s ruinous bills for years of round-the-clock nursing care, or JFK’s devastation by his father’s major stroke in 1962). Surprise: it’s not their own medical charts but rather the imprinted stories of near-and-dear exposure to medicine that drives our presidents on healthcare.
And Barack Obama?
Obama’s tears over his grandmother’s death and his passion about his mother’s struggle with the insurance company as she died of cancer, this premature death. That put the fire in his soul for this issue. He’s willing to put huge stakes on this. We know that there was a meeting in the White House after Tom Daschle — the nominee who was going to run this — former majority and minority leader in congress and the Senate. When he crashed and burned over tax issues there was a meeting in the White House in which all the economists at it said not now the plate is full. And a couple of people pushed the other way. Obama went with the minority. Five to two of them and — did the nays have it even though it’s five nays two to yeas. Why is it he cares about this issue? … Passion. And he’s got it for this issue.
Somehow, obvious as this was, it was new to me. The whole interview is worth a listen.