Today’s San Jose Mercury-News has an editorial that begins by pointing out some similarities between the national health-care program advocated in the early 1970s by President Nixon, and the one that President Obama is now trying to get through Congress. The editorial then explains:

Nixon’s plan failed because of one powerful opponent: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. He stood firm in favor of a single-payer system, and the moment was lost[…]

The Kennedy skill at collaboration had yet to evolve in the early 1970s. And given the family history with Nixon, who had run against John F. Kennedy, a Nixon-Kennedy plan for national health care was probably asking too much at the time.

The editorial concludes with some advice for the President:

Obama’s mistake has been allowing opponents to frame the debate and put him on the defensive. The Obama who was a master communicator during the campaign can recapture the lost momentum. He has to hammer home the folly of doing nothing, which is what his opponents want, and convince the American people that only through reform will they be assured of affordable, high quality health care in the future. The current system is not sustainable.

While providing health care to the 20 percent of Americans who now have none is critical, the president needs to aim his arguments toward the 80 percent who have coverage at the moment — at least until they get laid off — and are scared to death that they will have inferior care in the future[…]

The president has the oratory skills to turn this around. He also happens to be right about what’s needed. Richard Nixon, that well known socialist, would agree.