A Dozen Years Later, TNR Changes its Mind
The cover teaser says it all: 'TNR's Health Care Flip-Flop.' In this week's New Republic, the magazine re-thinks its 1994 opposition to universal health care coverage with a strongly written editorial whose headline puts it bluntly: "Moral Imperative." Here, in part, is what it says:
'Over the last 25 years, liberalism has lost both its good name and its sway over politics. But it is liberalism's loss of imagination that is most disheartening. Since President Clinton's health care plan unraveled in 1994--a debacle that this magazine, regretably, abetted--liberals have grown chastened and confused, afraid to think big ideas. Such reticence had its proper time and place; large-scale politically substantive failures demand introspection, not to mention humility. But it is time to be ambitious again. And the place to begin is the very spot where liberalism left off a decade ago: Guaranteeing every American citizen acces to affordable, high-quality medical care. The familiar name for this idea is 'univesal health care,' a term that, however accurate, drains the concept of its moral resonance. Alone among the most developed nations, the U.S. allows nearly 16% of its population--46 million people--to go without health insurance.'
Take a bow, TNR. The reference to its one-time abetting of the opposition to what was then called "Hillarycare" was an article the magazine ran (over much internal opposition) in 1994. Entitled "No Exit," it was written by Elizabeth McCaughy, a fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute. The article was so widely read and commented upon that it truly did play a crucial role in stopping the plan. As Slate's media critic Jack Shafer recently wrote, with the explosion of outlets carrying political commentary, TNR can never hope to reclaim the kind of central role it once played at the intersection of politics and the media. But it's still good that the editors have decided to rethink at least some of their move to the right in recent years.