Opponents to Health Care Are Punching Themselves Out
As I watched the episode recently about Muhammad Ali from VH1's Lords of the Revolution, a five-part series that chronicles cultural game-changers from the 60s and 70s, I was transported back to the night in 1964 when, as a 16-year old living in Columbus, Ohio, I listened alone one night to the radio broadcast of the great fight in Miami, where a 22-year old Cassius Clay surprised the world by busting up the then-heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston to win the the fight despite nearly every one's predictions that the "Louisville Lip" would lose.
Forty-five years later, at age 61, I'm reminded of that night and others in Ali's great career as I watch Obama being pummeled by his partisan opponents and pronounced DOA by the media.
TAKING PUNCHES TO WIN
Ali, who had secretly become a Muslim two years prior to the big fight with Liston on February 25th, went on to become the greatest boxing champion of all time, a feat that required him to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes as he fought his way to to the championship three times.
As a much older fighter fighting a much younger and much stronger George Foreman in Zaire in the fight nicknamed "The Rumble in the Jungle," Ali allowed Foreman to whale away at him, one round after another with little response. After eight rounds of delivering constant punches to Ali's body as he leaned against the ring ropes, Foreman, who said his goal on entering the ring against an opponent was to "kill him," had punched himself out. Although stronger at the start of the fight, the young foreman could no longer defend himself against a more experience boxer who recognized the fight was his to win.
Ali, using the energy he had husbanded while the younger and stronger Foreman expelled all his, came out of his guarded stance and delivered a series of punches that knocked Foreman to the canvass, where he lay exhausted, unable to get back up. Ali had once again proven wrong all the naysayers who predicted he would lose.
IS OBAMA ON THE ROPES BY CHANCE OR CHOICE?
The Rope-a-Dope, Ali's strategy of non-resistance that allowed his opponent to hit him without really hurting him, seems to be the national tactic President Barack Obama has adopted as so-called "Town Brawls" take place locally across the nation during August, a month when Congress returns home to hear from their constituents, many of whom have been pre-programmed by corporate organizers beholden to their funding masters who want the cash cow of American health care delivery to remain as it is to make fools of themselves as they flail away with round-house punches that don't connect.
The naysayers for Obama, of course, are the media and the Republicans. The media counted him out from the first day he announced his run for president in 2007. And they've been wrong about his ability to recover from body blows his opponents have delivered -- from Hillary Clinton and her campaign to the onslaught he took from John McCain, Sarah Palin and the right-wing Republican empire that threw every accusation at him they could last fall, only to realize that he became wiser and stronger the longer the contest went on.
I believe the same will happen with the debate on reforming health care. The media machine, from national outlets to local ones, have either pronounced Obama dead on arrival or unable to stay alive on a variety of issues, only to be proven wrong. While Obama learns and adapts, the media is stuck in its reflex to repeat the hollow, misleading and intentionally false talking points spewed out by Republicans, who each day are withering on their vines of sour grapes over loosing the presidency. And as we all know by now, the GOP is slowly shrinking as witnessed by the loss of hundreds of state legislature seats over the past four years. Little more than a regional party, Republicans are now mostly older, white guys, mostly from the south, who all want to date one female pitbull with lipstick from Alaska.
Obama, who was President of the Harvard Law Review, a fact that has impressed me but seems to be of no value to any talking-head pundit who champions dunces with little experience over accomplished professionals who are agile and articulate, has taken one body blow after another over reforming health care insurance, an issue Republicans have done nothing over their decades in power to help with except to enable their big corporate donors to prey on and milk like cash cows everyone who can afford their ginned-up health care schemes.
Even New York Times columnists like Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, normally dumped in the liberal category, have wondered aloud whether Obama is "punking" us (Rich) or whether it's too late for him to make a comeback (Dowd).
FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY, STING LIKE A BEE
In addition to his proven ability to evade capture by the media and right-wing Republicans on one issue after another, Obama has another strong reserve going for him that will win the day for him as he comes off the ropes and turns the tide in his favor. He's got the American health insurance industry and their greedy, uncaring, profit-only business model to whale on.
As the so-called "Birthers" and "Deathers" gnash their teeth and cry to "have my country back," showing just how stupid they are now because they never dared utter such inanities during the eight years President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney gave money to their rich friends through tax breaks, set the world on fire by starting two wars of convenience and pushing the nation to the brink of a second Great Depression, Obama has remained cool, calm and collected in the face of Americans who think being gouged to death by insurance companies and denied a competitive system that will reduce cost and lead to greater coverage is what Americans should opt for.
Republicans have made the media think that because their loudness, obnoxious disregard for the truth and blatant misinformation campaign is being reported on as if it had merit they are winning and Obama is losing the war of words on this issue.
Obama will do in Washington what Ali did in Zaire, win the health care contest even though it looks grim for him in the early rounds of a fight that isn't over till it's over. And it will be over when Republicans, aided and abetted by their right-wing media henchmen and those who think the truth is equal distance from any point of view no matter how silly or obscene, punch themselves out. Obama won't stand over them like Ali did with Liston, but he will knock them to the canvass now and again in 2010, when their ranks will thin even more as voters realize they have no power and can no longer punch their way to victory over a smarter and more agile opponent, who like Ali did before him will show them he can "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."
John Michael Spinelli is a Certified Economic Development Financing Professional, business and travel writer and former credentialed Ohio Statehouse political reporter. He is registered to lobby in Ohio and is the Director of Ohio Operations for Tubular Rail Inc. Spinelli on Assignment is syndicated by Newstex.com and is available for subscription (99 cents/month) to Kindle owners. His tweets on Twitter can be followed @OhioNewsBureau. To send a news tip or to make a comment, email him at: email@example.com