Saturday, December 19, 2009

Step by step and inch by inch

Gail Collins suggests that the health care reform bill, in its beaten down version, is still worth passing (The New Perils of Pauline, December 19, 2009). I believe she is right. But did right have to feel so very wrong?

President Obama is now returning from Copenhagen, where an ambitious 2 year journey into universal climate reform has dissolved into something just north of nothing. With the heart of any environmental accord ripped out, what remained was but a faint heartbeat of progress. The Times called it a "messy compromise (that) mirrored the chaotic nature of the conference which all participants said had been badly organized and run". Does this sound familiar?

In the end, the most that could be said of the climate talks was that the informal pact was a beginning. It is painfully clear, that we live in a world where competing voices on both the national and international front make any movement forward slow and difficult. Our belief that there is enough gravitas in our leader to force his vision on our country or on our world is naive and unrealistic.

We have to modify our goals. The soaring rhetoric of the President can only get us a little way down the path and the hard work has to be done step by step, as distasteful as it sometimes seems. We have to accept this diminished reality or we are doomed to a continuation of failure. To cling to the notion of perfect, or even very good, is neither appropriate nor productive. Some health care reform, is in the final analysis, better than none at all.

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