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 forBloggingheads.tv 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.