- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Now the real fun begins. President Obama and his Democratic legion, frightened with good cause, want the health care “reform” debate to be over and done with. “It’s time to move on.” Lots of luck with that.

“This,” the president said, interrupting his undivided attention to a basketball game to celebrate the House vote, “is what change looks like.” Alas, it’s what an abortion looks like. What the president and the Democrats don’t want to think about is that the public has already looked at this “change” and can’t wait to punish a lot of somebodies for it.

The first rush of euphoria that greets a presidential legislative triumph has given way in record time to stark reality. Sobering up quickly was inevitable. This was a health care takeover by the government that nobody wanted and even in the Democratic majority nobody wanted to be seen voting for. Only a perverted sense of party loyalty carried the day. Nancy Pelosi’s overheard remark to Steny Hoyer, the majority leader, as they walked into the Capitol said it all: “We’ve got to find at least one more than 216 votes because nobody wants to be blamed for casting the deciding vote.”

The president is expected to sign the legislation Tuesday, maybe in the Rose Garden if the sky doesn’t join the weeping, and then he will embark on a campaign to reveal the size and shape of the pig the Democrats hid in the poke. Mzz Pelosi devised this clever formula: Enact the legislation so we can finally see what’s in the 2,700 pages of mischief, mendacity and mayhem. “Voters may not buy it,” the Associated Press, in a rare burst of disinterested candor, observed just after the vote. “And that could mean a disastrous midterm election year for [Mr.] Obama and his fellow Democrats.”

Several states will file suit to block implementation of Obamacare, which they argue violates the Constitution by treating the states differently and infringes state sovereignty. This sounds arcane in the present day, where the doctrine of states’ rights, so dear to the hearts of the Founding Fathers, was thought to have been relegated to an antique store. But so sweeping is the assault on the Constitution that the states joining the litigation are more than the usual suspects from the Deep South. The suit will be filed by Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general of Florida, to be joined by South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, North and South Dakota and Alabama. Virginia will sue separately over the provision in Obamacare, citing the constitutional power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, that anyone who declines to buy health insurance will be required to pay a fine. Asks Kenneth Cuccinelli, the attorney general of Virginia: “If a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person by definition is not engaging in commerce. If you are not engaging in commerce, how can the federal government regulate you?”

Paying respect to the Constitution and its clauses is no longer necessary. And not just the Constitution. The rules of procedure which have restrained the occasional bouts of inanity (as well as insanity) in Congress are similarly abused. “There ain’t no rules here,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, “we’re trying to accomplish something … all this talk about rules … . When the deal goes down, we make ‘em up as we go along.” Mr. Hastings has experience in making it up as he goes along; he was thrown off the federal bench for taking bribes and judged unfit to be a judge. That’s when he drifted into Congress, where standards are not so high.

Now the action returns to the Senate, which must take up dozens of differences between the Senate bill, which the House adopted Sunday night, and the reconciliation bill the House passed for consideration by the Senate. Most House members purely hate the Senate bill, and Mzz Pelosi told her troops to trust the Senate to pass the corrections. But there are many opportunities for stalling, and the Republican leadership promises to exploit them all, with hundreds of points of order and dozens of amendments. The Democrats have the votes to spike them all, but if they summon the courage the Republicans can drive Harry Reid to such frustration and irritation that the Democrats will cry “Enough already!” and move on to other things. Stiffing the House, as a matter of principle, would please some of the senators.

Then it’s on to November and campaign politics, where there are few rules to violate. This will be the November to remember.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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