- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

OPINION/ANALYSIS

The killer disease dispensed by Barack Obama slipped into remission yesterday, and we can be thankful it did. “Remission” is not “cure,” but it’s a start.

Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, led the obsequies for the rush to judgment, though he was not necessarily obsequious about it. “It’s better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than trying to jam something through.” Nary a Republican in Washington could have said it better.

The president is trying to make the best of the demise of his promise to get health care “reform” on his desk for a signature before Congress goes home on Aug. 7. “That’s OK, I just want to keep the people working,” he said late Thursday. “I just want it done by the end of the year. I want it done by the fall.” This is brave face-saving talk from the man who insisted for months that he had to have his health care “reform” by August, or the sky would fall (or at least cloud over, darkly). He took particular exception to a Republican senator’s boast that the GOP would make health care “reform” the president’s Waterloo. His taking the senator’s bait dramatically raised the stakes in the struggle.

Then Mr. Obama adopted a curious diversionary tactic in the wake of Mr. Reid’s concession of defeat, returning public attention to the controversy - and the president’s contribution to making it a controversy - over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, the distinguished professor of history at Harvard, by Cambridge cops investigating a suspected break-in at the professor’s home. Mr. Gates, a black man, was arrested after he gave the cops, two white men, a bit of lip, asserting that he was an important Harvard professor.

The president said the Cambridge cops acted “stupidly,” and then, when the officers objected to being called stupid, the White House said the smooth-talking president, who as we all know more or less invented the English language, didn’t mean that the officers who acted “stupidly” were in fact “stupid.” (It probably depends on what the meaning of “is” is.) Further explaining what he was trying to say, the president asserted that with all that’s going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, “it doesn’t make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he’s not causing a serious disturbance.”

Just how a private domestic disturbance, by a Harvard professor impressed by his importance on campus, relates to the national debate over whether the federal government should take over another 18 percent of the national economy, the president does not say. (The contretemps off Harvard Yard was probably George W.’s fault, anyway.) But what Mr. Obama and the Democrats know is that the longer it takes to get his “reform” through Congress, the greater the risk the entire enterprise will fall of the weight of its own bureaucratic blubber. His “reform,” whatever the final details, is not likely to survive close inspection or analysis. The “reform” he wants, with the government prescribing and supervising treatment of everything from CAT scans and colonoscopies to measuring the size and design of bedpans and rectal thermometers, is a recipe for rationing. A government bureaucrat will tell you when you’re sick and whether you’re eligible to get well.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats object to the rationing plan being called a rationing plan, so the only way to get a scheme like this past the public, which doesn’t always pay close attention early on, is to do it quickly before a lot of people notice.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who earlier in the week was full of fire and ginger, boasting that she “has the votes,” retreated Thursday to watered milk and cornmeal mush. “I’m not afraid of August,” she said. “It’s only a month.” No one believed her boast then, nor her assurances now. The hero of the hour may be Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, a leader of the conservative Democrat “Blue Dogs,” who forced Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who is so far out on the left as to occasionally fall into San Francisco Bay, to suspend work on his part of the House legislation. He wants to wait until his party leaders get their act together.

The president envisioned all his Democratic congressmen enacting his health care “reform” and running triumphantly home to bask in public approval. Growing numbers of congressmen, Democrat and Republican alike, have begun to examine this “reform” and are terrified of being seen anywhere near Obama care. They’re not stupid, either.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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