President Obama’s website suggests that Americans talk about health insurance and the Affordable Care Act over their Thanksgiving meal. Some people object to this, arguing that the President is trying to hijack the holidays for political purposes. I disagree.
In reality, the President is trying to perform an important public service. Like everyone else who has moved from the kiddie table, he knows from painful experience that family discussions at the Thanksgiving table often can be difficult and filled with awkward pauses. He just wants to be helpful by suggesting a new topic of conversation for families in which every Thanksgiving conversation sounds the same themes.
During the early ’70s, for example, every Thanksgiving meal at the Webner household included these conversational non-starters:
Grandma W. — The turkey is a bit dry. Don’t you think the turkey is too dry?
Mom (trying to change the subject) — Would anyone like some jello salad?
Dad (to me and/or UJ) — When are you going to get a haircut?
Grandma N. — Cathy, your mother tells me you’ve been seeing a young man.
Uncle Tony — The football game is about to start.
Dad (to me and/or UJ) — When are you going to get a job?
Those meals cried out for presidential conversational guidance. And by suggesting that people talk about the Affordable Care Act, the President is doing his best to help families find common ground this Thanksgiving — because just about everyone, young and old, from any point on the political spectrum, thinks the healthcare.gov rollout has been disastrously botched. Raising that topic is bound to produce some jokes and apocryphal tales to keep the table talk going.
Thanks, Mr. President!