Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Year Of Dangerously Living
I understand the president's reasons for allowing Congress to write the health care reform bill. He went to school on the Hillary-Care fiasco and didn't want to make the same mistake by presenting a finished product that no one but a bunch of policy wonks understood. I'm certain, however, that Rocky never expected the entire opposition party to turn their backs to him en masse. Time and again he has reached his hand out to the Republicans, and they continue to beat him about the head and shoulders in response. Obama has run out of cheeks to turn. Yet like the boy who wakes up Christmas morning to a stocking filled with horse manure and shouts, "There must be a pony," I keep looking for the angle in Obama's continued attempts at bi-partisanship. I know that Barack and Rahm Emmanuel are smart guys and clever politicians, and the election proved that they are great strategians, so there's got to be some Machiavellian strategy in there somewhere concerning their persistent courting of Republican support for health care reform, but for the life of me, I can't see it. Maybe the pony ran away.
This Thursday, a massive, male-bonding, bi-partisan, drum circle will take place at the White House where, again, Obama will try to reach accord with his political opponents. They will submit their predictable ideas; tort reform, buying insurance across state lines, protection for insurance company profits, privatizing Medicare; and their preferences will be duly noted and most included in any bill. But it doesn't matter. Senate Republicans have already shown they are prepared to vote against the very same bills that they originally sponsored in order to deprive this president of a political victory, even if it's good for the country. Never in modern history has the entirety of a political party's elected representatives turned into a mass collection of refuseniks. Bi-partisanship might have existed in some dreamy memory of the New Frontier, but it's been over since the election of Bill Clinton.
Yet the GOP continues to insist that they just want this country returned to the original vision of the Founders. First, the Founders were slaveholders who believed the only people entitled to vote were rich, white, male landowners. Secondly, men like Jefferson and Madison were towering intellects with vast knowledge in a broad range of subjects. Hardly men who would enjoy exchanging ideas with John "ManTan" Boehner or Mitch McConnell, much less having a beer with them. But the Republicans are currently winning the message wars, Obama's popularity is dropping, and the Teabaggers are definitely motivated to return the country to a wrecking-ball style government. After all, there are still a few institutions left standing. The conservatives made their motivations clear at last week's CPAC conclave in Washington. Barely a year into the Obama presidency, and they're trying to Jimmy Carterize this man. The convention's surprise guest, Dick "The Bruiser" Cheney, predicted to his delirious audience that Barack Obama would be a one-term president. Also, I know Obama was trying to show political resolve when he told Diane Sawyer, "I'd rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," but he only emboldened his enemies.
If that's how Rocky feels, however, he may as well go down swinging. There is renewed Senate interest in the public option the House has already passed and Speaker Reid has agreed to bring the issue to the Senate floor. The right will demonize it as a "Government takeover of healthcare," when actually it's just a government-run health insurance plan to compete with the profiteers of sickness and death. Now that the Democrats have lost their formerly useless sixty vote majority, they are freed from having to negotiate with bad actors whose major concern is not the health and welfare of the citizenry, but who acquires the most power in the next election. The Dems can now go by the rules of reconciliation, which the Bush crowd nearly put their brand on, which only requires 51 votes to pass legislation. This eliminates the further need to smooch the derrieres of the Senate Republicans and the corporate-owned Democrats too. Either that, or make them fulfill their threat to filibuster. Call their bluff. We've all seen Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." It will be great entertainment and a magnificent civics lesson. So, bring in the cots, shut the doors, turn on the C-Span cameras, and let's hear and see the same people who are trying to kill health care reform read from the Scriptures.