I grew up with a generous and loving father who had a temper from hell. It is not surprising that I bridle my own temper and use it sparingly noting the havoc that my father's temper caused in our family. Like Obama I am a man who prefers to reason with people rather than shout at them, but I have learned over a long lifetime that there is a power to an angry shout that can move mountains. Walk and talk softly and carry a big stick only works if you actually mean to use the stick as a weapon. I have also learned that the use of anger by an otherwise reasonable man can bring down kingdoms -- in my case a magic kingdom -- and in Obama's case it might even bring in health care. Here's a true and timeworn tale from the Yellen family album to illustrate my point.
In the nineteen-seventies my small family, then consisting of my very young son Nick, and my very lovely wife (she who demands to remain nameless) went on a visit to Disneyland. It was a wonderful day. My son delighted in all the rides with the possible exception of the Pirates of the Caribbean which elicited gasps of terror from him as murder and rapine and shouts of "shiver me timbers" hovered overhead, with skeletons popping out like jack-in-the boxes in the darkness. Since I haven't been back to Disneyland in decades I only have my long ago recollection of how it worked. If I recall correctly, at that time you bought a book of script at the gate -- paper tickets -- and used these for the various rides. The lines were not so long in those days, and the prices much lower, but it was still Disneyland with the big headed Mickey and lovely Snow White there to meet and greet. After buying this ticket book no money was supposed to change hands, except in the various concessions where one bought food and souvenirs.
After spending a long and glorious afternoon in Disney's audio-animatronic wonderland, dusk appeared as we took our last ride. That ride had something to do with a mining railroad up a faux mountainside that required passing under a real man made waterfall. We were all exhausted from an overdose of happy family, with far too many Kodak moments, cheeks strained from our smiles, when the particular vehicle containing the three Yellens stalled under the waterfall, drenching all of us, and terrifying my child, and it was easily five very long minutes before the ride started up again and we were released from our forced shower and made it back to terra firma.
Departing the ride, drenched and irritated, I went over to a smiling Disney rep and asked for the money back for the ride, explaining that our soaked appearance did not come from a plunge we had taken on a Jungle-land cruise but from the malfunction of the ride from which we had just departed. The rep offered his apologies for the miscreant waterfall and offered us three tickets to use to take the ride again, or use on any other ride of our choice. I replied that we did not want to take another ride - we had done Disneyland - all we wanted now was to get back to our hotel and change our drenched clothes. The thought of riding under that waterfall again was as welcome as a leap over the Victoria Falls.
I asked for my money back. He refused, explaining, as if to a very dim child, that it was not the policy of the Disney people to return money - that all cash had been banished at the gate. And then I felt the spirit of my father take over. Hearing that the system could not accommodate me and return my cash, I heard that voice rise within me shouting, "Then f------k Disneyland and its f---king system." Those glorious Anglo-Saxon expletives resounding through the spotless streets of Disneyland proved to be the keys to the magic kingdom. Suddenly, as if by magic, a human appeared bearing cash the value of the tickets and thrust it into my hands. Amazing how my flash of genuine anger had driven a hole in the wall of that system.
Now I am not recommending that Obama shout "F---k the Republican obstructionists who are standing between Americans and decent health care." He can choose his own words. But what he must do is show that fire, that anger, that shows he is prepared to face down the system of obstruction that I faced that day forty years ago in Disneyland. There is a time in every life when accommodation becomes capitulation. Now my sons are grown men with families of their own, fighting their own battles with life. The lack of a decent single-payer health care system such as I enjoy in Medicare makes that battle all the harder for them and their contemporaries. If Obama lacks the passion to win this battle, then they are all stuck under that waterfall in Disneyland.