This is what centrism looks like:

The public option has become for the left what “death panels” have become for the right — an easily understood metaphor that can be used to wage an ideological war over the issue of Big Government, and mostly a sideshow.

Steven Pearlstein doesn’t wanna hear any more liberal whining about the “public option.” Fine. He favors so-called “co-ops.” Okey dokey. But to draw a moral equivalency between a totally fabricated distortion that killed a bill designed to empower patients, on the one hand, and, on the other, a program to expand health coverage to millions of people who need it is intellectually bankrupt. Glib moderate journalist dithering.

The rest of his argument against the public option is reasonable, even if I disagree; and he offers some good ideas (so they seem), like capping prices of drugs and setting prices hospitals charge to insurers. So let me be clear: I don’t care if my liberal football team wins. I want people — people, of whatever class or “station in life” they inhabit — to have access to the health care they need. Period. I favor the public option because, short of single payer, it is the best means of achieving that end. It’s not great, but it is the best I have seen so far.

None of which means the public option will be in whatever bill Congress throws together in the Fall. Liberals in Congress are threatening to vote against a health care reform bill if it lacks a public option — a move I sympathize with, but don’t feel is very constructive, and might be self-destructive in the long run. Which probably puts me in the Matthew Yglesias camp. Hmmmm. I may have to rethink that position.

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