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Paul Greenberg: Now playing: Obamacare, a tragicomedy

BY PAUL GREENBERG Published: November 1, 2013

If only Obamacare had been carefully thought through, it could have been not just a contender but a champion. It could have been … Romneycare, which embodies an approach that remains both effective and popular in Massachusetts.

When it was proposed and adopted overwhelmingly in 2006, Romneycare drew support from Republicans and Democrats and independents, liberals and conservatives and everybody else. It wasn't designed behind closed doors but openly debated and negotiated. It was designed for one state and one state only with all its unique strengths and weaknesses and eccentricities, its likes and dislikes. Romneycare passed the Massachusetts House by a vote of 154 to only 2, and that state's Senate approved it without a discouraging word — 37-0.

What's the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare? Maybe it boils down to the difference between competence and incompetence in a chief executive. And in political leadership. It's the difference between lasting success and continuing confusion, between plain English and a super-salesman's spiel.

Whether classical or Shakespearean, great tragedy must have certain great themes. It must involve a noble hero whose fatal flaw — like hubris — brings about his downfall but leads to a new awareness for him and catharsis for the audience. Unfortunately, our president has not reached that last stage and, given his nature, may never reach it. Which may be why Obamacare doesn't rise even to the level of tragedy.

What a pity. But the show must go on! And, alas, surely will.

Oh, if only it were just a show.



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