Published February 24, 2010
“Fatal Attraction,” the Washington version is playing on a television near you as Obama’s bipartisan summit on health care approaches. Like a possessed, rejected maniac the president refuses to allow the idea of a massive restructuring of our health care system to fade.
You’re just not that into his health care bill? Too bad. He won’t be ignored.
Obama is hoping that by rebranding and reworking the old, rejected versions of the House and Senate bill into an even scarier narrative coupled with a televised meeting, the pressure will be so intense that he can kidnap the handful of Republican votes he needs to catapult this monstrosity over the finish line.
To get our attention, Democrats attempted legislative suicide. After laying low, they're back again, and like any prey dealing with a psycho, Republicans are nervous.
They understand that this is a carefully calculated public relations gimmick designed to force their hand. They know that if they don’t show up, the images of empty chairs across the table from their caucus will be used, repeatedly, to paint them as unwilling to govern and to target them in campaign ads as obstructionists. Forget alerting the wife, the White House is going to out your bad behavior on C-SPAN. In other words: this is blackmail, Beltway style.
Like any concerned observer frightened for my friend’s life, as well as my own, I urged Republicans to set some terms and not accept the invitation to the president’s gathering unless he agreed to start over. Apparently, Mr. Obama was in favor of a second chance for the relationship and demonstrated his willingness by crafting a more expensive and politically explosive version of the first health care bill -- just on his own terms (so much for bipartisanship).
Attention all elected officials: at some point, you need to dig in your heels and do the right thing. For too long the GOP has been concerned with staging and games. On Thursday, they finally have a chance to be principled, but because of the looming land mine, they must acquiesce.
In the days and hours that surround the meeting, the GOP must sing off the same song sheet and often. They must repeat that this summit is, by design, one big trick, and that they have crafted health care plans of their own that have been disregarded.
In the meeting, the right must stick to script, backs facing the wall. Do no harm. No flipping of chairs or sudden outbursts of uncontrollable anger. Let Obama boil the bunnies.
For rank and file Democrats, Thursday’s dance is much more delicate. Obama is winking and nodding his way through the process, while he’s triangulating and strangling his own party.
You see, the real drama is set to occur after Thursday.
News outlets are reporting that Democrats plan to jam the Senate bill thru the House, then pass the Obama amendments as part of a smaller bill, using reconciliation, with changes to the Senate bill. This would prevent the need to go back to the Senate again with all the legislative provisions that could be out of order. It is still questionable whether some legislative provisions in the new Obama bill will be allowed in the Senate. The new price control commission, for example, may not make the cut. But the final, most climactic scene will be the House.
Will they vote for the big Reid bill -- as is? Will they accept the Senate abortion language, or no public option, for example?
Grab the popcorn. This will be great theater. If I were a House Democrat, I'd be petrified.
With each passing week that the president ignores jobs, choosing to focus on his obsession and an unprecedented legislative trick to stalk the public into a submitting to a relationship they don’t want, the more he looks like a lunatic who has escaped the asylum, just waiting to surprise you outside your window, in the rain on your fire escape until you relent.
What has become evident to everyone except the Democratic leadership is that the American majority has no interest in a relationship so dysfunctional, so unstable, so completely unhealthy.
Obama has stumbled many times trying to get his way. Act Two of heath care reform might be his biggest mistake on the issue yet. In an effort to hit a button to reset the process, he might have hit the one that just blew it up. Like any good horror film, the element that’s most despised just won’t die. Let’s hope we can finish health care off before anyone gets hurt.
Andrea Tantaros is a conservative columnist and contributor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter: @andreatantaros.
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