It's time to rally around Obama's agenda

I can't believe it's been only a year since President Obama took office. It seems more like decades — long, weary, tumultuous years.

Must feel like "Snowmageddon" every day to the president, which is what he called the blizzard over the weekend. But if you thought we had snow to shovel, imagine what he's had to plow through.

Snow jobs everywhere.

The banks, credit-card companies, insurance companies, his own party, the I-just-found-fiscal-responsibility Republicans, the death panelists, birthers, black people who don't think he's doing enough for black people, white people who think he's a terrorist (socialist, racist, alien, Bolshevik, the Joker), and voters who said they'd work for change but want it now, without working for it.

And then there's the Snow Queen of all Snow Queens: Sarah "Hopey-changey" Palin. She told the tea partyers she has issues with the president using a TelePrompTer.

Well ... she uses a palm.

Seems the president's dodging snowballs from everyone.

"I feel a little upset that people want so many results in such a short amount of time," says Solange Nelson, a Cherry Hill, N.J., Realtor who worked the phones for Obama's campaign. "It's only been a year. I think people have very short memories. They don't remember what the economy was like a year ago."

And the name Scott Brown is making the Dems run for the hills.

Ah, yes, the former Cosmo centerfold Republican who captured Ted Kennedy's Democratic Senate seat in Massachusetts. Photogenic. News-anchor wife. "American Idol" cast-off daughter. Supermajority buster, especially against the president's health-care agenda. From a state where everyone has health care. How sickening is that?

And while politicians and shortsighted voters continue to rail against health-care reform, the number of uninsured Americans continues to rise — now at almost 50 million — while 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day.

Considering we've got a reform bill on life support, I thought it would be a good time to check in with Joe Ferraro.

If you listen to Philadelphia-area talk radio, you may know Ferraro as "Joe from Philly." Actually, he's Joe from Audubon in Montgomery County, Pa. A 48-year-old husband and father of three who runs a Web and tech-repair business. Lifelong Democrat.

Like the president, Ferraro believes that affordable health care should be a right, not a privilege.

"We need to care for the common good," Ferraro said. "It's insane that in order to get health care you have to be working for somebody. That's borderline slavery."

His wife had to go back to work full-time, just so the family could have medical coverage.

"We had private insurance and it was so exorbitantly expensive, and it covered absolutely nothing," he said.

Ferraro, you may remember, shot to blogosphere fame during Michael Smerconish's interview with Obama at the White House last August.

"It feels like your knees are buckling a little bit," he told the president. "It's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of people who aren't willing to compromise with you."

I wondered if Ferraro thought the president's knees were buckling now.

"I felt like he was buckling after the Massachusetts race," Ferraro said. "But I can't ask for more than what the president did when he walked into the lion's den (the recent House Republican retreat in Baltimore) and beat the crap out of them. This is what I wanted to see six months ago.

"He was taking charge after charge but not throwing any elbows," Ferraro said. "I have a lot more confidence he's going to get stuff done now."

I'm right there with him.

Ferraro's still making the most of his 15 minutes, blogging occasionally for the Huffington Post and writing his own progressive blog,

And he's not giving up on health care.

"It's still going to be a tough fight for him, but this is a man who has the ability to walk through a crowd and disarm people, not with his charm, but with the facts and with who he is."

It's why Ferraro helped organize a modest rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last month to commemorate Obama's first year in office — and to remind people that grassroots change started with their candidate, not the tea partyers.

"We have to do something to take back the message. We have to wake up.

"I'm not going to let this president die a death by 1,000 cuts."

Annette John-Hall is a columnist for Philadelphia Inquirer. Readers may write to her at the Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101, or send e-mail to

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