The New York Mets used to have a relief pitcher -- a closer -- named John Franco. Franco was already past his prime when he came to New York, and while he was a beloved fan favorite, he was known as "Heart Attack Johnny", because he had an alarming tendency to do things like load up the bases and let the other team get to within a run before striking out the final guy to get the save.
To be a Mets fan is to know either heartbreak or the constant expectation of heartbreak. I don't know what it is about this particular team and organization that does this, but it is. Every time I see a toddler in a Mets jersey on a game broadcast, I want to accuse the parents of child abuse. Because sometimes being a Mets fan is like being in an abusive relationship....or like being Charlie Brown faced with Lucy's football. You know she's going to pull it aside, but you kick it anyway. You know the Mets are going to blow a 7-game lead at the end of the season, but you watch anyway. I fully expect the Mets to go on a tear the last few weeks of the season, making us wonder what might have been.
Watching Barack Obama come to the podium tonight was like watching John Franco take the field. Would he be able to pull it off? Or would he blow it, realizing too late that he'd coasted through the inning too long? As soon as I started hearing the heads of Republicans all over town exploding as Obama called Sarah Palin a flat-out liar -- not in so many words, but the message was clear, I turned to Mr. Brilliant and said, just as I say just about every time we watch the Mets, "You know, I hate when he does this." Because here we go again, thinking that just maybe something's going to change, that maybe Obama's found his nutsack after all, or even worse -- that he really IS playing a peculiar game of chess that only he understands. Or maybe he's one of those adrenaline junkies who likes to take junk cars over a cliff and jumps out right before the car goes over the ledge.
Because tonight Barack Obama pulled it off in grand style -- enough to make me wonder if the August of teabaggers and birthers and pulling the plug on grandma that we have just endured was perhaps a case of "giving 'em enough rope to hang themselves." Meanwhile, there were the Republicans, looking as if they were being waterboarded on live television when they weren't Tweeting (Eric Cantor) or waving what looked like old 1040 form instructions and shouting "Liar!" (Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina -- that wonderful state that gave us Mark Sanford, where nearly one in five people is uninsured
Joe Sudbay nailed the Republican side of the aisle perfectly
The Republicans have props. They keep waving something around. Honest to god, they are children. It's pathetic.
Why on earth would anyone want to compromise with these idiots?
While Obama said much of what I wanted to hear, there were some parts of the speech that were less than optimal. He's still wobbly on the public option, which I would have preferred he called "public choice", since polls have shown that the word choice polls better than option. He's still talking about compromise and bipartisanship with people who call him a liar and a foreigner and who would be perfectly happy to see him killed. And while he talked about recission and coverage, he's still not talking about any kind of requirement to actually pay claims.
It was a gorgeous speech, but we know he can speechify. I don't want speeches, I want a Democrat with balls. The question remaining is whether the petitions and the half-million dollars that the ActBlue tag team of Jane Hamsher
and Howie Klein
were able to raise for Congresscritters pledging commitment to the choice of a public plan had an effect, or if Obama was planning this all along.
But no matter how much your chain was yanked by the sight of a damp-eyed Victoria Reggie Kennedy saying to Michelle Obama "That was magnificent" (and mine was, but then I have been working 60-80 hour weeks, 7 days a week, all summer with no end in sight and I'm so exhausted that watching the vampire Godrick sacrifice himself to the sun on True Blood
can reduce me to blubbering like a baby), there's no escaping the single biggest fallacy of Barack Obama tonight -- that running health care coverage on a for-profit model is even possible.
Real reform? I'm from New Jersey. I'm a Mets fan. I've been down this road too many times before. Show me.
(UPDATE: TPM has the text of the letter Ted Kennedy wrote
before he died. Watch tomorrow for Limbaugh and Beck to say it's a fake. They are so predictable even I can predict them.)
Labels: Barack Obama, health care