Friday, January 09, 2009

Left And Right

Characteristically a little behind the curve, I take note of the debate raging- approximately six weeks ago- in the mainstream media and the blogosphere about whether the U.S.A. is a "center-right" nation or something more liberal. Here is Tod Lindberg penning a piece, "The Center-Right Nation Exists Stage Left," on, notable only in part because the author was an informal foreign policy advisor to the McCain campaign. Presenting a different point of view is Newsweek's Evan Meacham, who argued otherwise in October, prior to the election (for those of you unaware that the election was held in November).

Of course, the answer depends on whether one is arguing about the political nature of the country traditionally or where the nation is now. For a demonstration of the leftward trend bucking classic American conservatism, consider:

Conceding that it has long been viewed as Republican-dominated, the industry's lobbying arm plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on an advertising blitz promoting Obama-style health coverage for every American. The first spot -- sponsored by the drug lobby, consumer and labor groups, and health providers -- will be unveiled today.

Beginning this month, drug companies also will voluntarily submit to a host of marketing restrictions in an attempt to preempt stricter regulations that lawmakers in both parties are pursuing.

"We had better self-police and stop doing the things that cause so much criticism, or we're going to get legislated and regulated by government," said W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, the Republican former congressman who runs the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade association. The changes, he said in an interview, are an effort to move away from the industry's "slash-and-burn kind of policy" in response to previous regulatory and legislative efforts.

It's not the Iraq war, Iran's nuclear intentions, yet another Mideast war, the threat posed by Pakistan to India or mainland China to the world- or the glamorous issues of sex, race, or guns- but there are few issues more important than health care policy. And on this at least, the returns are in- the people of the United States, at this moment in time, are decisively left-of-center.

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