What this country needs, in addition to the good five-cent cigar, is a simple amendment to the Constitution decreeing that every law enacted by Congress will apply to members of Congress in the way it applies to everyone else.
No more platinum-plated retirement plans for members of Congress, no more cut-rate haircuts and shoeshines, and most important of all, no more health-care plans specifically for the men and women who get to tell the rest of us what’s good for us: “Just give us what you get.” If Congress keeps its cut-rate haircuts, then every visiting Toyota mechanic just off the bus from Topeka, with his locks curling over his collar, is entitled to visit the congressional barber shop for a cut-rate cut, too. And a manicure. He wouldn’t want dirt under his fingernails when dining at the Palm or the Jockey Club.
This would simplify debates over health care and a lot of other things. We should even put a clause in the amendment requiring members of Congress to live in the District of Columbia, ending decades of neglect, and stiffening the spine of a District government widely regarded, fair or not, as a redoubt of corruption and incompetence. The nation’s capital as an authentic community is what the founders actually had in mind, rather than the phenomenon of congressmen leading white flight to the suburbs.
The nation would be subjected to fewer “summers of discontent,” as the fashionable cliche describes the Town Hall debates that have so frightened and outraged the ruling elites, accustomed as they are to telling everybody else what’s what. There will be no rest for the vexed this fall; the cliche is about to expand. An “autumn of lamentation” is hard upon us. The second half of Barack Obama’s double feature starts soon.
The noisy horde of the uppity and the unwashed led everyone away from the script the elites had carefully written to impose government health care, one (giant) step at a time, and the liberal establishment is determined not to let that happen to Al Gore and the enormous tax increases hidden, barely, in the scam called “cap and trade.” Congress can’t wait to extract and spend all that money. Al joined Bill Clinton Saturday night in Nashville, thrilling a house full of Democrats who couldn’t get tickets to the Grand Ole Opry and had to settle for a political dinner. Instead of the “somebody done somebody wrong” songs that made Nashville famous, Al and Bubba wowed the crowd with vows that Teddy Kennedy’s dreams would never die.
Al’s heart is overflowing with unrequited love for global warming, which, fickle as it may be, has become global cooling nearly everywhere, with record low summer readings and with water levels in the Great Lakes, for example, resuming their cyclical rise. Like most Democrats, Al is terrified that the campaign to derail Obamacare, which looks to be succeeding, will swell with momentum that will overwhelm his global-warming scam as well.
The name of the new game is “save Obamacare, save cap-and-trade.” Bubba got the pep rally clapping and yelling. “You need to … let these congressmen know you’re not going to let them be steamrollered by a bunch of people who have been frightened.” Al did his part to fire up the government steamroller, hoping to match steamroller with steamroller. He invoked the Bible, citing Christ’s admonition to look after poor and the helpless. “The country,” said Al, “has a moral duty to pass health care. This year.” He stopped just short of boasting that he had received an email from Jesus, co-signed by Teddy Kennedy, only Saturday morning.
Al and his minions in mischief are fretting that their big opportunity to impose cap-and-trade is getting away from them. The Washington Post blames the free lunches and free concerts the oil companies use to draw crowds to speeches decrying Al’s scam. Enviromentalists complain that “the other side” has made its case while they snoozed through early summer.
There’s actually no mystery. The great unwashed, expected to tug at the forelock, pay the taxes and shut up, know how to read and write and have learned how to bully the bullies. Now that they’ve tasted the thrill of the romance, they demand more than a mere taste. Force-feeding their congressmen a little of the sauce they prescribed for the goose sounds like fun. Who knows where such impudence could lead?
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.