10/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Healthcare Despair

Anybody else hit the despair wall on the health care front? I hadn't until I watched Bill Maher's Friday night in-depth interview of the resplendent Bill Moyers, journalist of journalists. Here's a piece of it on YouTube, if you're curious.

The gentlemen were discussing metaphor and Mr. Maher asked Mr. Moyers for a true metaphor for the unforgiving health care downslide we seem to be choosing. Mr. Moyers, in his genius, answered immediately, "We're all in the same boat." Simple. Clear. Elegant. Moyers said it is "a moral message." It is that, and it's the absolute truth as well.

We are all in the same boat, dear one. Every one of us. What I don't get is why we can't see that or won't see that or don't see that!

Until everyone has health care (and that is health care, not health insurance), none of us really do. Those of us with insurance are already paying for those who don't have health coverage in sky-rocketing costs for tests and procedures we don't need so that insurers can line their own and physicians' pockets.

Don't you get it?! How much plainer does it have to be?

The thing Mr. Moyers said that sent my sweetie and me even more toward the abyss of despair is that "we have two corporate political parties" and "a corporate president." Whoa. Do we? I'm afraid we do. President Obama has already given his word to Big Pharma that he won't allow folks to import less expensive drugs from Canada, and that's just the start of it.

Mr. Moyers: "I think if Obama fought rather than finessed so much ...."

I'm afraid I have to agree with Mr. Moyers. Oh, I like that Obama is cool, don't we all, but is that cool m.o. getting it done? I don't think so. When he gave the eulogy at Senator Edward Kennedy's funeral, there was no mention of the core issue of Senator Kennedy's career: healthcare.

Why? Because Team Obama argued it out and decided that politicizing a cause at the funeral was in poor taste. They're right, it would have been, and it smacks just a little too much of an eye toward reelection to sit well with me. My Jewish grandmother would say: "One mention would have killed him?"

Mr. Moyers says Mr. Obama ought to say, "We need this [universal healthcare] because we're a decent country."

It's shocking to me how the miniscule minority of the right has become the perpetually irritating squeaky wheel that's getting not the grease, but the news cycle. Stop! Enough already!

Bill Maher has been saying for months that Americans don't understand the healthcare debate enough to have an opinion about it. I agree with him, and I count myself among that number. If I had to, I'd even cop to the fact that I don't really want to understand it. I just want it done, so Team Obama can get us out of Iraq, into greening our economy, and a host of other things they promised if we'd elect them. Yes, we did, and so now, yes, they must.

Moyers says toward the end, "We are a very crippled giant, suffering from self-inflicted wounds that if we do not treat and heal will, in fact, bring us to our knees and, ultimately, to our doom."

Despair some? Oh yeah.

"We wait so long. ... We wait a long time, until, almost, the ship has sunk, and the rivets of the ship of state, I think, are in fragile shape right now. ... We're close to losing the moral, financial and economic muscle, and the wisdom that makes a huge nation a great nation, but it's never too late."

Despair much? Yep, but with a glint of hope.

Anne Lamott wrote a swell Op-Ed piece about healthcare and campaign promises to Mr. Obama in the Los Angeles Times recently. She finishes with this:

"Do it for Teddy Kennedy, boss. Do it for the other Kennedys too, for Dr. King, for Big Mama, for the poorest kids you met on the trail, the kids who go to emergency rooms for their health care, do it for their mothers and for Michelle. Just do it.

"Trusting you, Mr. Obama."

I'm with Anne Lamott.

Years ago, I wrote a little book called God's Dictionary, which uses what the reviewers called "folk etymology" to give deeper meanings to everyday words. One of the words in that book was despair. It comes from Latin roots meaning a reversal of hope.

C'mon, Team Obama, get crackin'.

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