Since Obama got elected, my interest in US politics has dropped dramatically, for a number of reasons.
1) After all that emotional investment in Obama's election, to see it actually happen was an almighty relief and a much-needed opportunity to disengage from US politics for a while.
2) My attentions have been almost entirely focused on the worldwide recession/financial crisis over the past year, and to a smaller extent on the fascinating Asian stories now emerging. The obvious truth is that we are swinging back to a multipolar world and while what happens in America is still important, it is no longer the ONLY important thing. What happens in Delhi and Rio are no less important these days.
3) My huge frustration that Obama had focused his energies entirely on passing healthcare reform, to the exclusion of all else, especially financial reform, which in my view is a far more important goal for the safety and welfare of the world economy. I still believe that, and it was good to see Obama & Volcker cook up a package to nail the banks. There's still plenty more work to be done.
All the same, to see healthcare reform actually finally pass is to witness history in the making. The consensus view is that with this, Obama has already made his lasting mark on the American landscape. I don't see a reason to disagree with that. Even if he ends up being a one-term president, even if he gets nothing done in the time left to him, he will still always be the one who reformed healthcare. Few things will do more to make America a more decent, just and livable society. Sullivan rounds up some of the best reactions. Andrew Sprung has a great piece of analysis.
This was the passionate speech that Obama made to the House Dem Caucus on the eve of the voting. Add one more to that Greatest Hits collection. He couldn't have done it alone though; by all accounts Nancy Pelosi drove this one over the line through her sheer cussedness.
- Frank Rich invokes the spirit of Stieg Larsson (whose book I'm now reading) in the fight against big finance. Apparently Pretty Boy Geithner has been making the profile rounds at the New Yorker, the Atlantic and even Vogue!