Thursday, April 26, 2007

In First Debate, Obama Calls Attention to Rising Black Infant Mortality

On the day that the Senate joined the House in passing a bill that would require troop withdrawals from Iraq starting October 1st, eight Democratic candidates convened at South Carolina State University for the first debate of the 2008 presidential election.

Predictably, most leading candidates stayed on message, attacking the Bush administration and defending their earlier votes to authorize the Iraq invasion.
Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama called attention to an alarming health care crisis in the nation's south.

"This week, we saw a story that showed that black infant mortality in this country is actually
going up in some states, which is shameful and makes no sense," Obama said.

The New York Times reported on April 22nd: "In Mississippi, infant deaths among blacks rose to 17 per thousand births in 2005 from 14.2 per thousand in 2004,while those among whites rose to 6.6 per thousand from 6.1. (The national average in 2003 was 5.7 for whites and 14.0 for blacks.)"

The trend is troubling for some of the nation's leading health care experts.

While the other candidates persist in trying to explain their poor judgement in the 2002 Iraq authorization vote, Senator Obama, who has opposed the war from the start, rightfully drew attention to an urgent health care story largely neglected by the press.

In a debate full of familiar faces reciting sound bites, voters should be thankful that one leader is willing to draw attention to the issues that his colleagues are willing to ignore.