The Bridgekeeper (or, Dictatorship of the Teapartitariat)

February 10th, 2010

“He who seeks to meet with us again must answer first these questions ten.” — The Bridgekeeper from scene 24 (paraphrased)

Inspired by President Obama’s proposal for a televised meeting Feb. 25 with Republicans and Democrats to review each side’s healthcare reform ideas, and the Republican response of 10 questions, dictatorial in tone, which the President must answer before Republicans deign to meet with him.

Here’s Stephen Colbert’s 2/11/10 report on how Republican attendance at the meeting would be political suicide.

For more information, see Obama invites Republicans to summit on health care (Washington Post 2/08/10), GOP wary of Obama’s overtures ( 2/09/10), Republicans may opt out of Obama’s health-care summit (Washington Post 2/09/10), Despite gestures, bipartisanship remains elusive( 2/10/10), and other articles linked to below.

“I want to consult closely with our Republican colleagues. What I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table… I want to come back and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward.” – President Obama in interview with Katie Couric during Superbowl pre-game quoted by Washington Post

The President has the Republican healthcare proposal

And has placed himself at the GOP’s disposal.

He’s offered to go through all their ideas and move forward

(Since the latter are so few, that should be straightforward).

“How do you guys want to lower costs? How do you guys intend to reform the insurance market so that people with pre-existing conditions, for example, can get health care?” he said. “How do you want to make sure that the 30 million people who don’t have health insurance can get it? What are your ideas specifically?” – President Obama interview with Katie Couric quoted by New York Times.

 On healthcare, the GOP hasn’t come up with much that’s specific

(In generalities and misinformation they’ve been much more prolific).

The Dems have already incorporated much of what they proposed.

And for the rest, it’s much easier to agree on the things to which you’re opposed.

“We welcome President Obama’s announcement of forthcoming bipartisan health care talks.  In fact, you may remember that last May, Republicans asked President Obama to hold bipartisan discussions on health care in an attempt to find common ground, but he declined and instead chose to work with only Democrats.” – House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor Feb. 8 letterto White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel 

These House and Senate legislation are not “Democrat” bills written without Republican participation.

The Senate bill in particular had Republicans closely involved with its creation.

They put some things in, and took even more out,

Gravely disappointing the Liberal devout.

     You say you don’t want to use existing legislation

As a starting point for further negotiation?

They’re already the result of a year of negotiation and concession to Blue Dogs and the GOP,

So if you don’t want yet another bite at the apple, that’s fine with me.

“Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people?  …If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate.” – Boehner and Cantor letter

      It’s always helpful to start a negotiation by questioning someone’s sincerity

(Something Republicans do with regularity).

And I have to hand it to you guys— at least you’re consistent

In that you’re to any actual negotiation resistant.

     You’re also consistent in your preconditions tactic–

Demanding concessions to come to the table is a cheap trick.

Republicans adopted that tactic visavis Iran,

And now you’re adopting it again.

     I guess you’re saying that negotiating with Dems

Is the same as negotiating with the “Axis of Evil” which America condemns.

You seem to be promoting the idea

That Obama is just like Iran and North Korea.

 “[We] welcome the opportunity to share ideas with the president. We know there are a number of issues with bipartisan support that we can start with when the 2,700-page bill is put on the shelf.” — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quoted by Washington Post

The precondition that existing bills be shelved before meeting is outrageous,

And again your obsession with number of pages.

It’s complex to reform a sector that one-sixth of the economy represents

(Besides, it’s only 2700 pages if you count Republican amendments).

“Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan way, does that mean he has taken off the table the idea of relying solely on Democratic votes and jamming through health care reform by way of reconciliation?  …Eliminating the possibility of reconciliation would represent an important show of good faith to Republicans and the American people.” – Boehner and Cantor letter

Again with the innuendo and precondition–

Why not just demand Democrats’ complete submission?

Is your definition of bipartisanship

Dems of all options and power to strip?

“Many health care meetings of the closed-door variety have been held at the White House since then, including one last month where a sweetheart deal was worked out with union leaders.  Will the special interest groups that the Obama Administration has cut deals with be included in this televised discussion?” – Boehner and Cantor letter

 Is this a question, or just a gibe?

(Ironic, from masters of taking the corporate bribe.)

Obama’s deals are a big improvement over the ones Republicans cut before,

And I noticed that it’s only the union “deal” you actually deplore.

     That “deal” in Obama’s defense

Actually makes a lot of sense.

Unions accepted pay freezes or cuts for many years,

So their “Cadillac” plans are more akin to salary arrears.

     And as for his deal with Big Pharma, that was a necessary sacrifice

To try to get Pharma’s lobbyists to play nice.

It also included some savings and concessions on their part,

Which from the prior Republican approach did depart.

“Americans have been dismayed by the fact that the President has broken his own pledge to hold televised health care talks.  We can only hope this televised discussion is the beginning, not the end, of attempting to correct that mistake.” – Boehner and Cantor letter

You criticized Obama because discussions between Reid and Pelosi weren’t on C-SPAN

But remember he can’t control everything you think he can.

He doesn’t have Pelosi and Reid at his beck-and-call

(Not like Bush did with you all).

“Your answers to these critical questions will help determine whether this will be a truly open, bipartisan discussion or merely an intramural exercise before Democrats attempt to jam through a job-killing health care bill that the American people can’t afford and don’t support.  ‘Bipartisanship’ is not writing proposals of your own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support.” – Boehner and Cantor letter

In other words, if you don’t answer all our “questions” like we want (i.e., a full-blown retreat),

We’ll have an excuse to refuse to meet.

After all, Republicans don’t want a replay of Baltimore

When the President used them to mop up the floor.

     And the two bills were not secretly written behind closed doors,

But prepared openly on the House and Senate floors.

The President said he wants to hear your ideas and consult.

I’d hardly call that “demanding Republican support” as a result.

     And as far as “job-killing” is concerned,

I wonder from what credible source you that information discerned.

Reducing healthcare costs will save money and increase wages.

To me, that sounds like it would be pretty advantageous.

“Just screams ‘we would like to cooperate with you to reform the American health-care system,’ doesn’t it? But don’t take my word for it: You’ll really want to read the whole thing. These are not folks who concern themselves with the appearance of good faith. The only thing missing is an obscure riddle that Obama must answer before he can speak to Mitch McConnell.” – Ezra Klein in the Washington Post

Ezra’s right: the Republican response doesn’t exude much good faith,

Lack of which in the GOP is regrettably commonplace.

It’s like that famous scene in the video clip below

With the questions you must answer, over the bridge to go. 

“The invitation to meet together on Feb. 25 — and to do so live in front of the American public — represents an effort by Obama to hit the reset button on the top domestic priority of his first year in office. It also reflects a recognition that he must have at least some Republican support if he hopes to see health-care reform pass.” — Washington Post

It’s fitting Obama announced this during the Superbowl pre-game show.

After all, this is the Superbowl of Healthcare Reform, you know.

Ezra Klein called the meeting a high-stakes gamble,

To which the meeting in Baltimore was just a preamble.

     But like the White House said, pressing the reset button doesn’t mean starting from scratch

(If negotiations fail, there’s always the reconciliation escape hatch).

Starting over would be the GOP dream of delay come true–

It would let them the progress of the last year completely undo.

     No, it’s not likely Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will start making snow angels on the White House lawn,

Or that the President’s disloyal opposition will suddenly start to fawn.

But is it too much to hope for that Republicans and Dems could work together a little bit?

That would be better, you have to admit.

     Like the President said in Baltimore, Republicans have boxed themselves in a lot

By telling their Tea Party supporters that healthcare reform is a Marxist plot.

How can they compromise

With the Devil in disguise?

     If the meeting does take place, will it anything positive avail,

Or will Republicans continue to be the dog wagged by the Tea Party tail?

Will the healthcare reform bill be moved ahead,

Substituting unanimous Republican opposition for at least some support instead?

     Or, will the GOP succeed in their attempt to bury it,

And establish the dictatorship of the Teapartitariat?


Here’s the healthcare related part of the President’s interview with Katie Couric.

Speaking of obscure riddles, here’s what the Boehner/Cantor letter reminded me of (and let’s see if it the meeting turns out this way…).

And let’s see, is there a song that captures the spirit of the upcoming meeting? How about this

 Here’s Stephen Colbert’s 2/11/10 report on how Republican attendance at the meeting would be political suicide.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Political Suicide
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Skate Expectations

Update 2/11/10: Here’s Jon Stewart’s report on the Republican reluctance to join President Obama in a televised healthcare summit on the subject the (plus some gentle mocking about the horrors of Hawaiin healthcare.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Apparent Trap
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis
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5 Responses to “The Bridgekeeper (or, Dictatorship of the Teapartitariat)”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Valentine’s Day Says:

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  2. Flyer Says:

    We are close to the point where the all out war declared by one of the two major parties has made it almost impossible to govern the United States. The “party of no” will actually benefit from this situation and increase its influence through the 2010 elections.

    And to what end will this victory lead us ? We will be unable to address the critical issues of our time, and our nation will suffer because others will seize leadership in the technologies of the future. Our companies will be crippled by enormous health insurance costs, our energy independence will be an impossible dream, and our middle class will continue its decline through yet another decade and beyond.

  3. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Waterloo (or, The Republican Guard’s Last Stand Against Healthcare) Says:

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  4. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Let’s Get Together Says:

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  5. Newsericks » Blog Archive » What to Expect When You’re Reforming (or: 111 Poems to Celebrate the Healthcare Reform Law’s First Anniversary) Says:

    […] The Bridgekeeper (or, Dictatorship of the Teapartitariat) […]

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