With Daschle out, Obama should make Romney the healthcare-reform czar
It'd be a risky pick, but his record as governor speaks for itself.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mr. Obama laments the events that caused him to withdraw the nomination of his anointed healthcare-reform czar, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, as Health and Human Services Secretary. Reaching back to the lofty rhetoric of his campaign, he implores his audience to look past his own lapse in judgment and seize the opportunity to implement sweeping national reform that puts health insurance within reach for the millions already uninsured – and the millions more whose coverage is jeopardized by the nation's economic crisis.
Then Senator Kennedy ambles to the microphone. He thanks Obama for his attention to what has been a more than 40-year personal crusade. He reemphasizes that now is the time to rise above partisan politics and address this central policy issue of our time.
"I've seen such an approach work," Kennedy declares, "in my own home state, where in just two years we've seen 500,000 people who were uninsured gain access to quality healthcare as a result of an agreement among Republicans, Democrats, hospitals, insurers, and the voters. They came together because they understood this issue was too important to remain bogged down in politics any longer. Now I am here to introduce my partner in that process; a man whose life experience spans the heights of the public, private and nonprofit sectors; a man whose commitment to the goal of seeing every American receive quality, affordable healthcare is every bit as strong as my own; the man who I believe can work with the president, the Congress and the entire healthcare system to reach this goal; my friend, my former governor, Mitt Romney."
With that dramatic introduction, Mr. Romney strides gracefully to Kennedy's side, embraces the senator, shakes the hand of the president and accepts the most daunting assignment in an audaciously ambitious administration.
Putting Romney forward as the face of reform would be extraordinary, controversial, and risky. But, then again, so would anything resembling meaningful healthcare reform. It would require sacrifice on both sides of the political aisle – far beyond any of the halting, symbolic bows at bipartisanship exchanged thus far in the Obama era. And it may be the last, best opportunity to salvage the effort in the wake of Daschle's fall.