Monday, March 30, 2009

The Snapshot

It's a photo-op culture, because photos stick in the memory well. People believe that if you can make the snapshot happen, then everything is all right somehow. A friend tells me how much he wants a two-state solution for Palestine, but when you press him, he hasn't really thought it out what will happen after that snapshot moment. Everyone shakes hands and rejoices, journalists take pictures, people feel relieved. We have achieved Snapshot.

What happens next? Well, pretty much the same thing as now, except Israel's enemies have more leverage and legitimacy. One year later, things are no better, perhaps worse. But Americans and western Europeans have comfortably put it up on the shelf because of the snapshot achievement. See Oslo, for example.

It's not just a liberal thing, though they are more prone to it. Conservatives loved the purple finger snapshots in Iraq. Even though everyone kept saying "it's only a beginning," they were saying that because they knew many of their countrymen were thinking it was an accomplishment with some finality.

People who want universal health coverage want the snapshot: the moment when they can sigh with relief that if at this minute, a kid gets hurt in Yonkers, he is covered. What happens to research, access, wait-times, and cost after that simply "don't enter into it."

Heck, I understand it only too well. A life of successive comforting tableaux - who wouldn't want it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You had me up 'til the purple finger. Then I realized that your snapshot moment analogy really doesn't work. We don't worry about what happens after the "snapshot" because it's not our job. We know there is more work to do, but someone with much more competence will be hard work.

Where I work, the project team decides on an idea. Like Jean Luc Picard, they say, "Make it so," and it's my job to take care of all the nitty gritty details.