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President's State of the Union Address Targets Frivolous Lawsuits: Was I Dreaming?

Posted Jan 30 2011 6:04am
We watched the president’s State of the Union address recently with the kids, to try and inculcate them with civic interest and responsibility. He is an inspiring and skilled speaker whose words seem to transcend partisanship and divisiveness. Nothing like an electoral ‘shellacking’ to push a politician into a Kumbaya mode. I thought the speech was long on ideals but sidestepped the pain and sacrifice it would take to reach the objectives the president outlined. I was waiting to hear the president’s plans regarding Medicare and Social Security, and I’m still waiting. The president took such a high road, that it was in the stratosphere, beyond real life.

Here’s what he said the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Here’s what he didn’t say: save Social Security we are cutting benefits and raising the age when seniors can collect.

I’m not a journalist or a speechwriter, but my understanding is that the reverse pyramid system is used, meaning you start off with the important stuff and proceed toward the trivial. This is why The New York Times piece on the speech did not open with a comment on the president’s tie.

The following three subjects were included in the President’s speech. Place them in the order of importance.

The War in Afghanistan

The Peace in Iraq

Medical Malpractice Reform
Has the president experienced a Damascus Road conversion on the medical malpractice situation. Not only did he acknowledge that frivolous lawsuits are real and are not simply physicians’ phantasmagoria, but he addressed the issue before mentioning Iraq and Afghanistan. Am I reading too much into this? Here’s what he said.

Still, I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

Does the president really get it, or is he the wily political pragmatist who now views life through the prism of 2012? I suspect the latter because if medical malpractice reform were truly important to the president, then he would have insisted it be included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare. Time will tell if this plan is affordable and protects our health, as suggested by the law’s name.  Put me in the deeply skeptical category.

Yes, the president is a facile orator. The State of His Rhetoric is strong. The State of the Union, however…
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