I assume you, too, are sick of hearing or reading the phrase “robust public option” in connection with the health-care-reform non-debate. I suggest that “robust” be replaced by “roburnean,” but more on that in a moment.
I think it was Allen Simpson who said, of the Clinton regime, “they slice baloney more thinly than anyone I’ve ever encountered” (I paraphrase, of course). Rhetorical sleight-of-tongue, shadings of lies: Clintonese, soon to be available from Rosetta Stone. Little did Simpson know that truthiness was in its mere infancy during the Clinton Years, and that Cheney and Posse were about to get liquored up and shoot truth in the face.
“Robust public option” belongs to the Rise of Truthiness.
Obama and Company, rightly, leftly, or wrongly, want some competition for the health-insurance oligopoly. They also seem to massage interest in getting health insurance to people without it–a faintly practical idea that has no chance.
The straightest distance from here to there is a single-payer system because it spreads the risk and cost out as widely as possible–without excising people who need a lot of care. Other functioning industrial nations have figured this out, but you can always tell an American–you just can’t tell him or her anything and expect not to get “socialism” flung in your general direction or a flagstaff stuck into your logic.
Such a system is not amusing to companies making a lot of money from the current system (and who can blame?–they’re in business to score profits), Obama is a realist, and so now the debate is about a “public option”; or, as my students like to say, “whatever.”
One must not merely support a public option, however. One must support a robust public option. This situation would be less annoying if those opposing the idea would come out in favor of a fragile public option, or an anemic one, or a perishable one. At least then the non-debate might amuse. “Senator McCain spoke today robustly in favor of a rickety public option. C-Span cameras captured the empty chairs in the Senate, and they seemed to shine a little brighter.”
In keeping with custom, I consulted the OED online regarding robust and found what I expected–the following #1 definition:
1. a. Of persons: Strong and hardy in body or constitution; possessed of rude strength; strongly and stoutly built; of a full and healthy habit.
Note that the public option is consequently being personified by being made robust.The public option has donned sweat-pants and gone for a feverish jog along the Potomac in order to generate rude strength.
The serendipitous OEDian surprise, however, lay just above “robust” on the list of words to the left of the definitions:
Roburnean–of or pertaining to oak.
It is alleged to be an obsolete word, so it is perfectly suited to Congressional non-debates. If someone were to come out in favor of or against a Roburnean Option, a puff of fresh air or a sliver of hardwood would be introduced to the dreary proceedings, at least. And that is all for which we can hope, citizens. To your health!