Don’t you love farce? My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want–sorry, my dear.
Send in the clowns. There ought to be clowns!
Don’t bother–they’re here.
from “Send in the Clowns” by Stephen Sondheim
I never would have guessed someday I would invoke a song from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music to summarize how things are run in Washington, DC, under the leadership of President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress. But these two simple stanzas sum up perfectly what happened at yesterday’s “Health Care Summit.”
It was a farce. Started with a lie. And it all went downhill from there. Especially for Obama and his fellow Democrats. What Obama and the White House hoped would be a chance to further demonize Republicans as the “Party of No” turned into a stunning example of which party is actually the party of “Know-Nothing.” It showcased how thin-skinned and really unpresidential our president can be, how unprepared to deal with truth instead of emotion Democrats in Congress are, and the fact that, once again, feelings are more important than facts.
Facts, famously said John Adams, are stubborn things. And, unfortunately for Obama, those facts got in the way of his televised circus yesterday. Oh, he tried to get around them. “Don’t get bogged down in numbers,” he told Paul Ryan, when confronted with the truth that his plan was fiscally disastrous. “Put away the props,” he said, when John Boehner pulled out the 2,000+ pages of the Health Care bill that few in the room had actually bothered to read.
It wasn’t just the President who was being disingenuous. After Senator Lamar Alexander called for Democrats to renounce parliamentary tactics (i.e, “reconciliation,” the so-called “Nuclear Option,”), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was indignant. “No one’s talking about reconciliation,” he lied. Everyone and their brother knows that Obama, Reid, and House Speaker Pelosi have been doing nothing but talking about reconciliation so they can avoid an open debate.
For his part, President Obama responded with one part pissiness and two parts diffidence. After the lunch break, when Republicans had the gall to once again suggest that reconciliation was not the way to go, Obama responded with, “The American people are not all that interested in procedures inside the Senate.” Hmmm. An easy way to put the lie to that statement is to look at the new USAToday/Gallup poll which reports that 52 percent of Americans oppose using the procedural maneuver to pass the health care bill in the Senate on 51 votes rather than the 60 votes required to end any filibuster.
As Michelle Malkin puts it, “When he wasn’t cutting off Republicans who stuck to budget specifics and cited legislative page numbers and language instead of treacly, sob-story anecdotes involving dentures and gall stones, President Obama was filibustering the talk-a-thon away by invoking his daughters, rambling on about auto insurance, and sniping at former GOP presidential rival John McCain.”
While Republicans came off well and reasonably, the six-hour blowhard-fest was a monumental waste of time. Why? Because the President had the final word, and he made it clear, in one of the most un-presidential moments of the day, which was filled with them (snarly faces, snarky words, and yes, nose-picking):
“What I do know is this, if we saw movement, significant movement, not just gestures, then you wouldn’t need to start over because essentially everybody here knows what the issues are, and procedurally it could get done fairly quickly...We cannot have another year long debate about this. So, the question I’m going to ask myself and I ask all of you is, is there enough serious effort that in a month’s time or a few week’s time or six week’s time we could actually resolve something? And if we can’t I think we got to go ahead and make some decisions and that’s what elections are for.”
The President is set to lead his party clearly against the will of the majority of Americans. He’s willing to obliterate proper Senate procedure to ensure they get this thing passed. He’s not going to wait six weeks, he was preparing for this from the very beginning, and his final words, his final threat to Republicans, makes that clear.
While Sondheim’s song was a song about love and regret, in light of yesterday’s summit, it can be interpreted a bit differently. This was a farce from the very beginning, they think that we want what they want (and instead of sorry, my dear, it’s pretty clear that Obama and the Democrats have something a bit more expletive-filled to say to the American people, and it ends with “you,”).
Send in the clowns? Don’t bother. They’re here.
Oh, and one last thing. I predict that last line, about that’s what elections are for, will come back to haunt Obama and the Democrats come November…