By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
The House passed President Obama's health reform bill by a slim margin and mainly along party lines. A bill that's designed to ensure that all Americans qualify for health care. But the first healing has to be to a divided country. And that must take place before the new law is fully implemented in four years.
The "debate" over the bill - and I use the term advisedly because the 10 hours of rhetoric in the House was more about talking to constituents than about convincing other members of Congress to vote one way or the other - really underscored the wound that now needs to be mended.
The Republicans - almost to a member - prefaced each reference to the bill with the term "flawed." Clearly, this wasn't coincidental. They orchestrated their message and they stayed on point. Repeatedly.
Each Democrat who was introduced, almost to a member, was praised as having worked hard to get the bill to the floor.
In the end, every Republican voted no - and all but 34 Democrats voted yes. At least we can say that nearly three-dozen Democrats broke with their party leadership and voted their consciences. Not so the Republicans.
But more worrisome than the rhetoric in the House were the words - and actions - outside.
On Saturday, some protesters tossed racial and sexual orientation pejoratives at some Democratic members of Congress as they reported to Capitol Hill. One congressman was spat upon.
Much of the text in the virtual auditorium on the Paltalk News Network reflected during the debate and vote bordered on the inflammatory.
There's been a lot of talk in Washington about reconciliation - as a political tool. But the nation is in need, now, of another kind of reconciliation following this dragged out partisan fight. It would behoove leaders of both parties to reach out across the aisle and begin that process. But with the mid-term elections just around the corner, the chances of that aren't likely.
The Democrats may be celebrating their victory today. But the divisive way this went down means that the Republicans are now loaded for bear and looking for political retribution.
Of course, for the Dems, things probably would have been worse had they lost, because the president, and his party, would have been perceived as politically wounded - allowing for the GOP to move in for the kill.
This is what's so distasteful about this past year of debate over health reform. Instead of doing what's best for the nation, our elected representatives acted in their respective party's best interest. Until they learn to put their constituents first - this is one wound that no kind of health insurance or care can heal.
The health reform bill will be the topic on today's News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network. To join in the conversation at 5 PM New York time go to www.joinchatnow.com. There is no charge.