On Political Books

November/ December 2011 Sisyphus Gets to the Top

How America's forbidding political landscape made health care reform impossible for Clinton and nearly so for Obama.

By Harold Pollack

Future presidents will need to contemplate large measures to address our large national problems, from climate change to widespread unemployment. I fear these leaders will contract a kind of legislative “Vietnam syndrome” as they recall Obama’s and others’ difficulties in the struggle over health care reform. As the health debate has shown, our capacity for collective national action does not currently match the serious challenges we face. In health care and other areas, we will need to do better.

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Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.