by David Safier
I'm gonna get hopeful once again, about Giffords' stand of the public option. Hopeful is good, especially when it has some justification.
I just returned from her town hall at Sahuaro High. If I heard what I think I heard, Giffords gave a pretty strong endorsement of the idea of a public option.
Here are some items from my notes. I tried to get as close to Giffords' exact words as possible. Others who were there can chime in and say whether I got it right.
Giffords said she strongly supports the public option, though she doesn't support single payer. She also said, and I found this very significant, that she thinks she is the only Blue Dog to come out in favor of the public option. Separating herself from the Blue Dog pack made her statement feel more significant. And she added, a public option is one of the best tools to bring costs down and provide more accessibility and affordability.
She said about the public option, "We're talking about another option open to people who can't afford insurance."
And then she talked about her own Congressional insurance. She says her coverage is the same as any other federal worker, then said, "The public option should provide the same cafeteria-style options I have as a member of Congress."
Unless I'm missing some kind of code here, these are the strongest statements Giffords has made on her support for a public option. Tomorrow I may retreat back into a more cynical stance, but I hope not. I don't enjoy picking a fight with her, or with any Democrat; I've only done it because I think health care reform is too important to give a pass to anyone who's standing in its way. I really want to believe she's on our side. Time will tell. Right now, I''m hopeful.
Giffords' general demeanor at the town hall, by the way, was excellent. She's a pro. She was clear and forceful. Rather than trying to placate the yellers and screamers -- and there were lots of them -- she stated her positions without apology. I think she understands that her detractors have more respect for strength, even if it's against them -- she ended some of her statements about problems with our health care system by stating, "and that's just wrong!" -- than they do for weakness.
There were times when I disagreed with her, like when she talked about voting against Cash for Clunkers and the auto industry bailout. But even there, I had to give her credit for stating her position clearly and explaining it without apology.
When the Congress reconvenes and the health care battles begin again, I'm going to be whispering, "Go Gabby!" with my fingers crossed.