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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Art, life and Lady Macbeth in a strapless gown

Last week, life and art and politics collided, not for most folks, but for me as I moved through my days. It happened to be the week I saw both the production of “Macbeth” at Lincoln Center and the revival of “The Glass Menagerie” at the Booth Theater. It was also the dispiriting week that the new Affordable Health Care Act ran off the rails because of a disastrous online launch.

To begin with the website failure, I was brought back to the night President Obama was elected in 2008, and Jon Stewart looked into the camera and said, “Mr. President, please don’t break our hearts.” For the tens of millions of us who worked for and voted for Obama, it was as much a matter of the heart as politics. We felt raised up by his election, and tremendously hopeful that he would pull the country together and start fixing what had gone wrong during the Bush years.

Despite the obstructionist actions of ultra-conservative Republicans, the president has passed meaningful legislation, led us out of wars he didn’t start and finished business between the U.S. and Osama bin Laden that had to be finished. His signature accomplishment, however, promised to be the Affordable Health Care Act, known widely as Obamacare.

In recent weeks, it became clear that the online sign-up was a disaster, full of bugs and glitches. The law itself is sound and better than what we had, but try telling that to someone who’s attempting to use the website.

Because of all the critics waiting in the wings to pounce, this law required a smooth roll-out. Unfortunately, it could hardly have been worse, and if it isn’t up and running soon, the bad beginning could drag down the entire program. Young, healthy people need to sign up and get health care, and it has to be easy for them to do so. It seems incredible that the resources and brains and will of the best and brightest in Washington and Silicon Valley can’t get this project on course.

So, I needed an escape from the depressing news, and there’s no better flight from real life than the theater. It’s a coincidence that I had tickets for “Macbeth,” and “The Glass Menagerie” just three days later.

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