By Matthew Rothschild on December 23, 2009

Are you feeling like a chump yet?

If you’re a good progressive, and you wanted single-payer health care for all, or, second best, Medicare for All Who Want It, or third best, a robust public option, or fourth best, a paltry public option, now you’ve got nothing, nada, zippo.

Has it ever crossed your mind that this is the way President Obama wanted it to be?

That he tossed in the public option at the beginning only to get progressives on board, knowing full well that he was going to jettison the public option by the end?

Have you considered that maybe Max Baucus wasn’t the problem?

And that maybe Olympia Snowe wasn’t the problem?

And that maybe even hideous Joe Lieberman wasn’t the problem?

But that Obama himself was the problem?

After all, Obama never once said he wouldn’t sign a health care bill that didn’t have a public option in it.

After all, Obama dumped on the public option at almost every opportunity, calling it just a “sliver“ of the overall package, and not the most important sliver at that.

After all, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was huddling regularly with Max Baucus when the Montana Senator squashed the public option the first time.

And after all, Obama didn’t even ask Lieberman to back the public option.

Seems to me that Obama played us all for fools.

His discussion of the public option was a cynical charade from the start, and now he expects all good progressives to rally around this “historic” health care bill?

Forget about it.

The most historic thing about Obama’s health care bill is the double-cross he dealt progressives.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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