Today I watched a pile of speeches on health care by various Democratic politicians, capped by Hillary Clinton. Everything I’ve seen indicates that Hillary is the most popular Democrat here other than than Obama. Other speakers worked the crowd, but Clinton didn’t even have to give applause lines to get cheers, and she couldn’t even start her speech for a minute because the audience wouldn’t stop cheering her. Sure, people who care enough about health care to go to a speech about it are already in the tank for her, but she received the same reception on the floor last night.
And she’s been doing her job at this convention, which is to endorse Obama and sound like she means it. But what struck me was that the first point she hit in her speech was this: Any national health-care plan that leaves anyone out will not work, because it will not get the necessary cost savings. No non-universal plan is acceptable.
And while Obama has been saying the right things the last little while about universal health care — that the argument is over — well, his official plan still isn’t universal. It leaves people out.
After noting that universal care was necessary, Clinton started talking the tactics of how to get universal health care. What’s her plan? Democrats craft a plan, pass it through Congress and present it to Obama. Sotto voce, I read this as saying, "Let’s get an actual universal plan in front of Obama and get him to sign that."
Clinton promised that she wouldn’t forget universal health care, and what I’m seeing is that she hasn’t. She’s trying to move Obama towards it, but what she said last night was that she "can’t wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health-care plan into law that covers every single American". That’s not the same thing as endorsing Obama’s health-care plan, which she’s never done.
I’d say the fight for universal health care is far from over. Obama would certainly sign a bill if one was given to him. And it sounds like Clinton and others are going to do their best to get him one. Hopefully he wants it — he’s said he does, though he hasn’t been willing to expend political capital to get it. But whether he wants it or not, Clinton’s going to do her best to give it to him, and to America.