After watching the absurd kabuki theater going on in Washington, where Harry Reid spends half his time crowing, “we’ve got the votes!” and the other half bullying people to get the votes, and Nancy Pelosi walks around like a smiling set of brass knuckles, offering anything, hourly, to anyone who will help her pass their healthcare plan “by Christmas,” I have a message for all of you in both houses of the US Congress:
GO HOME. Drop what you are doing, right now, and go home. Put the 2000 page healthcare bill that you haven’t read into the trash can as you turn out the lights and head for the airport.
When you come back in 2010, you can start again, from scratch, and you can try to put together a sensible healthcare bill that comes in under 250 pages. But when you come back from your vacation, you must be cognizant of the fact that your past methods have failed, so consider the following:
1) Declare “no more closed doors” and try some of that “transparency” you like to squawk about. Allow Moderate Democrats and the GOP to actually have a hand in crafting the bill. That requires some growing up, I know; it requires Mrs. Pelosi to actually act like a stateswoman instead of Olivia Soprano, but that’s what she is paid to be; one assumes she would not want Olivia’s legacy.
2) Gather a contingent of Americans from each state, comprised of a few doctors, a few lawyers, a few nurses, a few patients and a few average, politically-unconnected people, and listen to them. Listen to what they think we need, what they think is wasteful, what they think is best left to their discretion. They won’t have all the answers; this is not magic. But the American people are by-and-large pragmatic and they can be very sensible on serious issues. Regardless of how much you believe it to be so, Americans are not idiots meant to be ruled.
In case you have forgotten, you were elected to serve them, not to dictate.
3) Take a look at the forbidden issue of tort reform. Yes, the lawyers give you a lot of money to ignore it, just as the teachers unions give you a lot of money to look away from their failings and abuses while shoveling more taxpayer funds into their bottomless hole, but take a look at tort reform anyway. It needn’t be drastic; no one is saying we must put a limited value on human life and human suffering; we should not do that, not in the courtrooms, and not in the hospitals, either.
But perhaps there should be inserted into the process some local oversights -panels that examine suits, to see whether a case actually has some merit to its charge of malpractice or ineptitude. They might, for instance, tell someone who was stupid enough to put a hot cup of coffee in her lap while she’s driving that her vapidity did not entitle her to two million dollars. They might tell the guy who decided to paint a wall too soon after surgery that his doctor is not at fault for the consequences of his own decision, and the case would simply not happen.
Just the existence of such a panel could act as a serious deterrent to the frivolous lawsuits that have tied up our courts and contributed to such litigation-phobia that children can no long climb on monkey bars and ride teeter-totters and corporations are afraid to sponsor student-events.
And, Dear Congress, after you have actually bothered to listen to each other (a rare thing) and then listened to Americans (an almost-unknown thing), perhaps you can admit how unworkable all of your recent “solutions” have been. Pay attention to the fact that you could not handle paperwork for 700,000 home owners, and consider that maybe if you couldn’t do that, you are not ready to handle the health concerns of 350 million.
I know, it might be a humbling thing for you to realize that you have fallen down on so many jobs, regardless of whether they were created or saved. But maybe a little humbling is what you need, in order to actually, you know…govern effectively.
Go home, and work in a soup kitchen, or watch a church teach people how to write job resumes in hopes that you will step off the necks of businesses to allow job-creation. Go out and stand before the doors of a local grocery store for a little while, or a local K-mart, or even the local mall, and just watch America walk by you. Don’t say a word. Don’t greet anyone. Don’t extend your hand and ask for anyone’s support. Just shut up -pretend you’re invisible- stop being a politician and watch people as they go by, and listen to what they are saying. You’ll find that you’re not the center of the universe, anymore, and that people are scrappy, and trying to hang on to their lives and their ways with a bit of pride, even if they don’t always seem dignified. You might hear what they really think of your universe, too, as they remark to each other, in disgust, about how you and your fellow “representatives” have long-ceased to represent them.
Go home, and read Shakespeare, and consider what “sound and fury, signifying nothing” really means. Read Chesterton; “It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged,” and wonder if there might be a rope ready for you, someday. Read Virgil, “I sing of arms and the man,” and consider what presidents and parliamentarians are supposed to be doing for their nation and the world. Listen to Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey; “In this world, you must be oh-so smart, or oh-so pleasant. Well, for years, I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
Go home and read George Washington;
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquent – it is a force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
Consider, then, how irresponsibly you have been attempting to craft legislation by means of bullying, and braying, and scheming and swaying, while not listening to the people you are meant to serve; not listening at all.
Go home, Congress, and -even if you are not especially religious- find a bible and read about a government that forces people to travel to them, that the people may be counted and then held accountable. Read about a scheming king who seeks to abuse the good will of others for intelligence meant to destroy, not build up. Read about the slaughter of innocents and the land full of grief that results from the rank ambition of those who govern. And consider who you might be in any part of that story. Read about the powerful insiders and the lowly outsiders, and choose which side you wish to join.
Go home, Congress, and give America a break from your freakish certainties, your falsities, frailties and your folly. Turn off your blackberries and stay off the television and try to find whatever scraps of humanity still remain buried beneath the crust of stinking, corrupt ambition you’ve allowed to grow on you.
Perhaps when you come back, you can be humans again, and sane, and willing to actually serve your nation, instead of yourselves.
If not, you will be served eviction notices, soon enough.
“Remaking America,” indeed.
UPDATE: James Taranto writes: America Says: DO NOTHING
Malkin: Time to Kill the Bill. Yes. They need to throw this stinker out.