- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HEALTH CARE FOLLIES

Health care reform Senate-style is more than 2,300 pages long and might be better suited as a projectile, to be stowed aboard a drone and catapulted down upon the hide-out of, oh, some terrorist somewhere. That’ll teach ‘em. The sky’s raining heath care reform. Run for the hills.

And that Christmas Eve vote. Some Americans have taken offense at this odd phenomenon, deeming it “offensive” and even “sacrilegious” that lawmakers will be holed up on a sacred night, saying “yea” or “nay” rather than “amen” or “alleluia.” Six out of 10 likely voters, in fact, say the Senate should have waited on its vote, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Maybe the senators should just go ahead and stage a Christmas pageant, though there would be fisticuffs over who gets to play the Wise Men. Another idea: “Health Care Reform, the Musical.”

The press may have failed in its obligation to inform the public and explain the facts, meanwhile. “Obamacare” coverage seems like election coverage: long on speculation, horse race and meaningless partisan details - short on issues, red meat and clarity.

Indeed. Where is “Health Care for Dummies” when you need it?

“What is in the health care bill? The Senate version? The House version?” asks Michael Wolff, founder of Newser.com. “I have been looking through the coverage — the vast sturm und drang about it — and can’t find any news organization that has in any accessible way summarized the damn thing and made it easy reading.”

“In essence, we have a raging argument about a bill that no one, except maybe people with very peculiar interests, actually understands. On top of that, no final bill yet exists,” Mr. Wolff continues.

“Even for the hot-button issues — like the public option and abortion funding and opting into Medicare (whatever that is) - youd be hard-pressed to find a neighbor or colleague or family member who could tell you just what the resolution has been,” he adds. “The country is deeply polarized by a legislative overhaul, the details of which remain opaque to almost everybody. Ill bet even most members of Congress havent the foggiest.”

NIGHT TRAIN

All this evening-shift stuff in the Senate has people wondering.

“If it is such a wonderfully historic moment, why do they act under the cover of darkness?” asks talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

“This type of late-night disgrace represents a complete invalidation of promised transparency and demonstrates exactly why this Congress is held in such disdain,” agrees Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican.

PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT

Why celebrate Christmas? That’s what President Obama asked a group of children from a Washington community center Monday. A child volunteered the immediate answer: “The birth of baby Jesus.”

Mr. Obama took it up from there.

“The birth of baby Jesus, and what he symbolizes for people all around the world is the possibility of peace and people treating each other with respect. And so I just hope that spirit of giving that’s so important at Christmas, I hope all of you guys remember that as well,” Mr. Obama said.

“You know, it’s not just about getting gifts, but it’s also doing something for other people. So being nice to your mom and dad and grandma and aunties and showing respect to people — that’s really important, too. That’s part of the Christmas spirit, don’t you think?”

He added, “The three wise men, if you think about it, here are these guys, they have all this money, they’ve got all this wealth and power, and yet they took a long trip to a manger just to see a little baby. And it just shows you that just because you’re powerful or you’re wealthy, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is the kind of spirit you have.”

HISTORIC ELVIS

Only in America, perhaps. The U.S. Archives says a photograph documenting a meeting between President Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House on Dec. 21, 1970, remains one of the most requested images in the federal agency’s 15-million item collection.

Presley simply appeared at the White House gates 39 years ago, presented the security detail with a five-page, handwritten letter to Nixon on American Airlines stationery and eventually was ushered inside for a visit. The pair chatted, and the singer presented the president with the gift of a World War II-era Colt 45 pistol.

But hey. This is history: The famous meeting has inspired a special event at the National Archives on Jan. 6 featuring eyewitnesses: Egil “Bud” Krogh, a White House assistant, and Jerry Schilling, a music industry heavyweight and longtime buddy of Presley - moderated by Timothy Naftali, director of the Nixon Presidential Library, and introduced by David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States.

Consult www.archives.gov for information. The event is free.

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans say “good riddance” to the 2000s, deeming it a negative decade.

• 27 percent say it was positive; 21 percent said it was “neither.”

• 35 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats say the decade was positive.

• 46 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats say it was negative.

• 59 percent of Americans overall say the next decade will be more positive.

• 49 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,504 adults conducted Dec. 9-13.

Life preservers, survival kits, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com. her at Twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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