President Barack Obama will star in his very own televised entertainment spectacular on Thursday — let's call it Federal Health Care Kabuki Theater.
The Republicans wanted to dance. Now they'll have to step lightly. They were foolish to get trapped in his so-called summit on national health care. Or did they actually think they could outperform the skinny fellow from Chicago?
The president is taking this one last chance to push his health care agenda, which by his own estimate will cost about $1 trillion over 10 years. That's money America doesn't have, but he could probably just print some more.
Obama will be in his element, talking and lecturing, the law professor framing the debate. He'll spend hours being seen as reasonable. The Republicans will balk and the president will shrug. He'll sigh and say he tried to reason with them but they refused.
Then once the cameras are turned off, he'll take out the baseball bat and explain how things get done The Chicago Way.
It's all about muscle. As an acolyte of the Chicago Democratic machine, he's seen muscle at work in Daleyland. Now he's in the White House, and he's going to use muscle too.
Indeed, it is all about muscle, and has been all along. One doesn't pick someone like Rahm Emmanuel to be one's Chief of Staff and claim otherwise. Well, one COULD, but that person would just end up looking very foolish indeed. But I digress:
Thursday's entertainment spectacular should be great TV for political junkies, a little singing, a little dancing and panels of media experts. They'll chatter on in their little boxes on the TV screens, each trying to be more clever than the other guy.
Someone will probably repeat that ridiculous Washington storyline about Obama, courtesy of the legions of Hopium smokers, which suggests that our young president is just not mean enough.
He's too intelligent, they say, too virtuous, too principled to be ruthless. Sure, it's complete nonsense, a story for children and true believers, but they repeat it, again and again, desperately, like some secular prayer.
Without ruthlessness, how will he get his health care plan passed? Especially as some Democrats back away and the Republicans say no.
Though Americans generally support some aspects of his agenda — covering the uninsured, protecting those with pre-existing conditions — a majority are opposed to Obama's overall health policy.
That's because they're reasonably nervous about two things:
Those two claws of the federal leviathan grabbing one-sixth of the national economy.
Amen, brother. Preach on:
On the eve of Obama's Health Care Kabuki, The New York Times desperately cleaved to the conventional wisdom about the president:
"Ever since his days as a young community organizer in Chicago, Mr. Obama has held fast to the belief that by listening carefully and appealing to reason, he can bring people together to get results, an approach that in Washington has often come up short."
Oh, please. That approach comes up short everywhere. After the Hopium smokers nod off to pleasant dreams, what counts is who has the muscle. Obama knows this. So Thursday might mark an epiphany for many.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democrat from Nevada, foreshadowed how the White House will use force — through a parliamentary trick known as the "nuclear option."
Formally, it's called "reconciliation." It would allow Senate Democrats to pass national health care legislation with a simple majority, without Republican support, by bypassing Senate rules that require 60 votes to stop a filibuster.
The Senate of the United States was explicitly formed to slow down legislative passions and let them cool, not heat them up as in the House of Representatives. The Senate was not born as an institution where a simple majority rules.
But we Americans don't read history much these days, do we? Instead, we watch "American Idol," and vote for our favorite performer.
That is just the sad truth of it. Our college students are WOEFULLY deficient in the most basic knowledge of Civics, but you can bet they know who's on American Idol. That is a failure of our educational system, an indictment of it, really.
It makes me wonder why that is - that American citizens are so ignorant of our form of government. I can hazard a guess - if people are unaware of how a government should function, they are unaware when their government is not functioning properly, or is pulling a fast one on them. Just a thought. But it is also that same lack of knowledge about government in general that allows young people to be hood winked into voting for an American Idol candidate, instead of the BEST candidate for the country.
Back to Kass:
"They should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before," Reid said of Republican outrage. "It's done almost every Congress, and they're the ones who used it more than anyone else."
Reid's right. And Republicans have problems crying about it now.
Yet what Reid, Obama and others avoid is that a few short years ago, they were shrieking. Republicans sought rule changes so a simple majority could approve then- President George W. Bush's judicial nominees who had been held hostage by Democrats.
"(Bush) hasn't gotten his way, and that is now prompting, you know, a change in the Senate rules that really, I think, would change the character of the Senate forever," said then-Sen. Obama in 2005.
Sen. Joe Biden, now Obama's VP, gave the best sound bite of all.
"I say to my friends on the Republican side, you may own the field for now," Biden speechified with dramatic pause, lip bite, shake of head, "but you won't own it forever. I pray God that when the Democrats take back control, we won't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." (Emphasis mine.)
It is exactly this kind of hypocrisy that makes those of us who ARE paying attention to what our government is doing just nuts. I remember well how ballistic we were going at the threat of a "nuclear option," and it sure wasn't about 1/6th of our entire economy, either. For the Democrats to demean and belittle Republicans for balking at "Reconciliation" when just a few short years go DEMOCRATS were screaming and crying about it is exactly why so many of us are thoroughly disgusted with them. The animosity, the name calling, the put downs - this is not appropriate behavior for the US Senate. Reid has taken it to a new low, and I can only hope and pray his home state will toss him out on his keister.
But here is the bottom line regarding this Health Care "Reform" bill,a nd this publicity stunt:
Obama needs a victory. He must claim momentum before leading nervous Democrats toward November midterm elections. Either that, or he faces irrelevancy and insurrection.
Americans won't know exactly what's in that federal health care bill that will change our lives. We won't know how much it will cost us, or which insiders get rich, until after it's all done.
Naturally, the insiders will know. And after it becomes law, they might let the rest of us in on it.
That doesn't sound much like a man transcending the politics of the past, does it?
It sounds as if The Washington Way is just like The Chicago Way.
John Kass, and Lynn Sweet, both citizens of Chicago, have tried and tried to warn us that Obama is most definitely, incontrovertibly, a cog in the Chicago machine. To think otherwise, to believe otherwise, is completely without foundation. Obama has done nothing by his actions to prove otherwise, either, despite his words. And the summit on Thursday, showing Obama's flashes of anger (how DARE anyone question him - he is The One!!) did nothing to disprove that, either.
No doubt about it: the "Chicago Way" has become the "Washington Way."