Friday, November 5, 2010

David Corn on Serious Medicine: "Transcend the Status Quo." Prospects for a Grand Compromise on Alzheimer's have just increased.

Can left and right come to agreement on Serious Medicine?  If the November 4 episode of Bloggingheads.TV is any indicator, there is, indeed, the potential for a harmonious convergence on the issue of cures.   Because, after all, our common bonds of humanity should transcend ideology.

David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, author and co-author of several well-regarded books on national security and intelligence, as well as a fixture on cable news, appeared with me on Bloggingheads, and also wrote this column, on what Obama might do next.  That column included these paragraphs:

But I saw a glimmer of an answer the other day, while taping a diavlog with James Pinkerton, a quirky conservative (who worked in the George H.W. Bush White House). We were engaging in (what we hoped was) an amusing exercise: I would give the House GOPers advice, and Pinkerton would do the same for the White House. My recommendation to Boehner & Co. (or is it, Boehner Inc.?) was for the R's to show they are serious about governing by cutting a quick deal with Obama on energy that would avoid the more contentious matters (cap-and trade, nuclear energy, and drill-baby-drill) and focus on serious conservation measures, efficiency standards, and research and development for alternative energy, going further than what Obama and the Democrats included in the stimulus package. Pinkerton suggested that Obama announce a major initiative to cure Alzheimer's disease and invite the Republicans to join in this grand project. He noted that recently former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor co-wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for an Apollo-like project to stop Alzheimer's by 2020. And Maria Shriver has been making a similar case.

Pinkerton may be on to something. I'm not certain how such a presidential move would play with the public when unemployment is still near 10 percent. Would voters -- and Obama's die-hard opponents -- criticize him for focusing yet again on health care rather than jobs, jobs, jobs? (Noted: it is conceivable that Obama cannot do anything to help himself or his party while the economy remains stalled, even if his policies have prevented conditions from worsening.) O'Connor is asking for about $2 billion a year -- which is about 2 percent of the cost of the Afghanistan war. But is this the sort of big government spending that tea partiers and Republicans would decry? (The tea partiers are generally an older bunch and should appreciate such an effort.) And is there a reason to pick this illness over another?

Such an act, though, could convey boldness and imagination, and, yes, spark inspiration. Obama needs to find some manner in which to transcend the current political status quo. 


  1. A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about some significant money.

    Come on Jim. We need to stop treating the government like some kind of omnipotent superman that just needs to figure out which pretty girl to rescue. It isn't. It's an inefficient institution that is hopelessly in debt, broke, and it is run by incompetent fools who could not operate a lemonade stand let alone a complex economic or medical program, let alone both at the same time.

    I have a better idea, let's raise two billion dollars from people who want to see this disease licked (which is pretty much everyone) so that the collection could be voluntary and divorced from the grasping and incompetent hands of the government and its money-wasting machine? I'll all for taking on AD in a big way, but why should the government be involved in it at all? While you are at it why not make sure that the potato chip industry is involved too? They have more expertise in managing money than the government does, they are more solvent, and they know no less about medical research than the federal government does.

  2. What has Jerry Lewis’ MDA Telethon been curing since the 1950s? No cure to date :-(
    See ( )
    for MDA Histories.
    I think government’s leveraged financing of R&D would be the quickest way to find cures for AD, Diabetes, Autism. Take 2 or 3 diseases at a time and make a $ + 10 year commitment to them for cures.

  3. It bothers me when they let politicians decide about medical issues. It's like asking and accountant to construct a building.

    - Janice Horn