Whatever the Supreme Court decides in June, the fight over Obamacare has already taught us tons about the character of the president and the men who seek to replace him. Call it the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We’ll take them in turn.
The Good. The “good” is President Obama. The decision to go big and stay big on health care has been the most revealing act of Obama’s tenure. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and former economic adviser Larry Summers both told the president early on that, given the economic disaster he walked into, his legacy would be avoiding a second Great Depression. “That’s not enough for me,” Obama replied. At another critical juncture, when health care was stalled in Congress, Rahm Emanuel urged the president to scale his plan way back. Just cover all children, Emanuel counseled. It would be an important first step. Obama said no.
The president’s foes say this means the man is on an ego trip, out to secure his place on Mount Rushmore. But there’s nothing wrong and everything admirable in the quest for worthy fame; Lincoln talked about this impulse in his earliest speeches. That’s what motivates great leaders. I’ve always thought Obama’s persistence on health care was his finest hour.