Friday, April 11, 2008


Paul Krugman in today's New York Times:

Look, I know that many progressives have their hearts set on seeing Barack Obama get the Democratic nomination. But politics is supposed to be about more than cheering your team and jeering the other side. It's supposed to be about changing the country for the better.

And if being a progressive means anything, it means believing that we need universal health care, so that terrible stories like those of Monique White, Trina Bachtel and the thousands of other Americans who die each year from lack of insurance become a thing of the past.

You know what I have my heart set on, Paul? Seeing a Democrat win the presidency. Seeing Reaganism, Atwaterism, Limbaughism, and Bush/Cheney/Roveism repudiated. Right now, that means focusing on beating the disturbingly popular John McCain, either with Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee following a bearable amount of additional intraparty fighting -- or with Hillary Clinton, after an utter bloodbath.

Some of us have been thinking, and continue to think, that Obama can bring new voters into the Deocratic fold. Some of us worry that Hillary Clinton would be more bellicose in foreign affairs than Obama -- the last thing we need. And some of us think Hillary Clinton, like her husband, might sound a lot more progressive in campaign speeches than she'd be in office, where we expect her to backpedal and triangulate as much as, in your eyes, Obama triangulates by backing away from real adocacy of universal coverage.

Look, I'm disappointed with both health care plans -- but frankly, I don't expect any Democrat to win on this, even with a Democratic Congress. After all, I lived through the first two years of Clinton's presidency.

But, overall, a compromised Democrat is still going to do a hell of a lot less harm, and will do more good, than a Republican -- and we can't possibly have Hillary Clinton as the Democratic standard-bearer now without tremendous damage to the party's chances in November, without even more ugliness on our eventual nominee's part and without even more time wasted on internecine struggle.

You say that what inspires your outrage is the fact that "a number of Obama supporters (though not the Obama campaign itself) join[ed] enthusiastically in the catcalls against Mrs. Clinton's good-faith effort to put a human face on the cruelty and injustice of the American health care system" -- that good-faith effort being her statements about Trina Bachtel, whose story Clinton garbled but didn't truly misstate.

But these weren't catcalls against the assertion that our health care system is cruel to millions of people -- they were catcalls against the (yes, mistaken, but widely reported) notion that the specific story was invented, by a candidate who's not going to win.

And yes, I'd be saying the same thing if the situation were reversed.

This damn thing has to end. If Obama supporters took pleasure in an apparent gaffe on Clinton's part, it's because that apparent gaffe looked as if it might help bring this damn thing to an end.

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