Monday, September 13

Frontline: Obama's Deal

Despite how much it has been discussed, I'm surprised by how few people actually know what the health care bill passed earlier this year actually contains. Frontline: Obama's Deal (available for streaming on the PBS website) pulls the curtain back on the bill, explaining the long process and series of deals that lead to the final bill.  Frontline, however, is not for a lay audience. If someone unfamiliar with the bill watches this, they will walk away unsure of what passed. Was it the public option? A mandate? A funding bill for Nebraska? There's no way to know based on Frontline alone.

The movie starts with Obama's first mistake, the nomination of Daschle and goes through the long list of slip-ups: the priority placed on a bipartisan outcome, the failure to defend Ted Kennedy's seat, the backroom deals.

Frontline tries to show the two sides of Obama: the inspirational side, and the practical deal maker. In the oversimplified vision portrayed, the deal maker comes off as a failure, and the inspirational side wins the day. Frontline rightfully hammers Obama for working with the lobbyists he attacked in his campaign. Senator Max Baucus comes off looking like a health insurance company lobbyist in training.

Then came the tea party and all of the ugliness and the anger that came to the surface last year. According to Frontline, this killed any prospect of a deal (even though it was clear that bipartisanship was effectively dead before this). And then there was Joe Wilson's "you lie" moment. But Frontline made no mention on what ignited the tea party to begin with. No mention Sarah Palin or why anyone believed that there would be death panels. You really can't tell the story of the debate and leave the fear mongering out. Why were these people so animated? This is a massive omission and makes the story incoherent. Tea partiers upset over bailouts angrily shouted down healthcare reform? Is that really all Frontline is willing to say? This was incredibly disappointing and a whitewash of what actually happened, and that's putting it lightly.

1 comment:

Mr. Natural said...

I haven't seen the Frontline program on this, but fully expected the bill to be more or less of a sop to the industry. I mean, how could Obama NOT kow that Daschle was a front man for the industry??
After he refused to even attempt to prosecute the torturer in chief, I pretty much gave up on him. I will vote and support any and all Democrats because I hate Republicans so much, but have come to expect much less from them than we deserve.