A couple of the other guys weren't quite so respectful. One shouted, "Single payer!" The other, "Public option!" Mr. Obama didn't flinch. My guess is after Joe Wilson's shout-out he'll never flinch again.
"...somebody just brought up something," he halted and replied. "But understand that the bill you least like in Congress right now..."
A woman yelled, "Baucus!"
"... would provide 29 million Americans with health care... Would prevent insurance companies from barring you from getting health insurance because of a of preexisting conditions. Whatever the bill you least like would set up an exchange so that people right now who are having to try to bargain for health insurance on their own are suddenly part of a pool of millions that forces insurance companies to compete for their business and give them better deals and lower rates."
He smiled and paused and gave it to me straight.
"You know, sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the other side, they just kind of -- sometimes -- do what they're told. Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves. I like that in you. But it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close. And we've got to be unified.
"But what I reject," he said looking right in my eyes, "is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure on health care or they root for failure on reforming our energy system, or they root for failure on getting the Olympics. I mean, who's against the Olympics?"
Mr. Obama suddenly fell into a Seinfeld moment, "What's up with that? You know? That's a sad thing, isn't it? I mean, I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican, you know, it's the Olympics. Come on!"
"What I reject is when some folks," he continued exasperated but determined, "all they've got to say is, let's go back and do the things that we were doing that got us into this mess in the first place.
"That's all -- that's all they've got to say? Like we forgot? We didn't forget. It was only nine months ago. We understand exactly who and what got us into this mess. Now, we don't mind cleaning it up -- I'm grabbing my mop and my broom and we're scrubbing the floors and trying to neaten things up.
"But don't just stand there and say, 'You're not holding the mop right.' Don't just stand there and say, 'You're not mopping fast enough.' Don't accuse me of having a socialist mop. Instead of standing on the sidelines, why don't you grab a mop? Help us clean up this mess and get America back on track! Grab a mop!"
Spontaneously, we all started shouting: Grab a mop! Grab a mop! Grab a mop!
I made five phone calls that night to organize support for robust health care reform that includes "Medicare for Everyone." I'll make some more tomorrow and the day after.
Hey, you! Yes, you! We just got the job nine months ago. We're just getting started and so is President Obama. Grab a mop, please.
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