Day: December 24, 2009

A Testimonial To Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has been bitterly attacked and criticized by many as ineffective, lacking in charisma, not aggressive enough, and as a bland speaker.

The problem is that he has been compared to the master Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, the greatest leader in the history of the Senate. That is indeed a tough act to follow or to match.

I have often felt that Senator Reid was not the right person to lead the Democrats, and certainly, he does not come off very well on television in his appearance or his rhetoric.

Having said that, I think it is now time to applaud Senator Reid for his behind the scenes work keeping the Democratic coalition in the Senate together, dealing with the many prima donnas in the Senate, and managing to get all of them to unite to pass the legislation on health care, which will be seen in the future as the most significant social legislation in 45 years, and one of the most important pieces of legislative work in the entire story of American history.

Reid is a modest man, but even his own colleagues paid him tribute this morning, including Max Baucus, Christopher Dodd, Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin, and Chuck Schumer. This victory for the Democrats and the American people is due in no small measure to his tenacity; his courage; and his quiet, behind the scenes, patient dealings with difficult personalities in order to accomplish the greater goal of expanding health care to millions of people who had no chance before this to what every American should be entitled–decent health care!

Ted Kennedy Is Happy Today!

The late Senator Ted Kennedy may be gone, but he is not forgotten!

His widow, Vickie, was present this morning when the Senate passed the Health Care Reform bill 60-39, and she had tears and was hugged by many at the moment when it became official.

Vickie Kennedy had indicated a few days ago that while the legislation was not exactly what Ted would have wanted, since it does not have a public option, that her husband would still be pleased that the Senate and the House have finally taken action on an issue first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, and actively pursued since President Harry Truman’s administration.

So this is indeed a time to rejoice, and as the years go by, the Democratic party will be able to improve the legislation piecemeal, and a majority of Americans will applaud and appreciate the sacrifices that the Democrats went through to gain the passage of this essential reform!

The Democrats, The Republicans, And Public Perceptions

Congress is never very popular, and particularly this year with the bruising partisan fight over health care.

But a new CNN poll shows more people, 51 percent, think Democratic policies are good for the country, compared to 46 percent who think they would be bad. By comparison, 53 percent think the Republican policies would be bad for the nation, compared to 42 percent who think they would be good.

These numbers have not changed much since August, when the rowdy town halls and the rise of the Tea Party/Freedom Works activists seemed to be hinting the country was turning against the Democrats.

So considering all of the fireworks and partisanship, the Democrats still seem to be in pretty good shape, but of course they must emphasize the good they have done by promoting health care during the upcoming midterm congressional elections, which will be crucial to the continuation of the Obama agenda.

In other words, the Democrats cannot rest on their laurels, but must aggressively promote the positive nature of their initiatives in the 111th Congress. That is still a better message than the constantly negative tone of the GOP as an obstructionist group which refused to cooperate at all on solving the issue of health care reform. The Democrats MUST not allow the negativism and fear tactics of the Republicans to sway voters, and must fight hard for every seat in Congress and every governorship!

No Profiles In Courage Among Senate Republicans :(

The Republican party was the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, but that time has long passed. 🙁

Knowing full well that the American health care system needed reform, not one Republican in the Senate could overcome party loyalty and do the right thing: vote for health care reform.

The fact that this legislation forces insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions; creates an exchange that allows for competition as up to 31 million additional Americans have an opportunity to choose coverage; guarantees that no one will ever lose coverage because they get sick or injured; protects Americans from outrageous out of pocket expenses by establishing lifetime and annual limits; allows young people to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26; prevents exorbitant premiums based on age, gender or health; lowers premiums for families through offering struggling people the possibility of subsidies; and helps small businesses to provide health care coverage to their employees through tax credits was totally ignored even by those Republicans thought to be open minded and possessing courage and principle.

I am talking about Olympia Snowe of Maine, Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and George Voinovich of Ohio. These nine senators have shown signs of independence and courage in the past, and are seen as highly admired senators in the sense of having principles, but not one could find it in their hearts to forget partisanship and make the legislation bipartisan.

These senators over time will come to regret their failure to cross party lines, come across the aisle, and do what was right: support the legislation that is the most significant social change to occur since the mid 1960s!

Jimmy Carter, Israel, And The American Jewish Community

Jimmy Carter, on the eve of Christmas and the New Year, has issued an apology to American Jews for any past statements or actions that angered and caused a breach between them and the former President.

In a surprise move, Carter expressed his apologies and request for forgiveness. He upset the Jewish community with his comparison three years ago of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the South Africa apartheid system that lasted until the mid 1990s. Also, his visit this past year to Gaza to meet with Hamas, the terrorist group that runs that territory, angered the United States, the European Union, and Israel.

The head of the Anti Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, accepted the apology for the Jewish community in a spirit of foregiveness, with the understanding that Carter’s future actions and words will be crucial to full acceptance of his apology.

Carter has expressed his hope that bloodshed and hatred would over time be replaced by mutual respect and understanding between Israel and its Arab neighbors, as it is his greatest wish to see peace in the area in his lifetime.

My feeling is the same as Abraham Foxman, and I think most Jews will accept the apology and hope for better relations between President Carter and the Jewish community, as there is a lot of Carter’s record during and after his Presidency to admire and praise!

Correction To Yesterday’s Entry: Inhofe Returns To Vote, But Jim Bunning Misses The Vote On Health Care

I stand corrected on the matter of Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe being absent for the final vote today on Health Care Reform, as he surprisingly returned for the vote.

But Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, former baseball player and Hall of Famer, who did not have an “All Star” career in the House and Senate, replaced Inhofe as the absentee in a final 60-39 vote this morning. No explanation was given, but since Bunning is retiring next year, and is depicted as unpopular among his Republican cohorts, including his Kentucky colleague, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, no one should be surprised that he did not stay around to vote.

I apologize to Senator Inhofe, but only on his reported absence, as everything else that has been stated about him by me and other critics remains true. But then Bunning and Inhofe could easily compete for the list of worst senators in the present membership. The one virtue of Bunning is that he is leaving, and Inhofe is not!