Part One: The Legislative Agenda.
In the middle of January, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House and Senate would vote on the compromise health care bill by no later than February 15th. Senator Harry Reid commented that he thought people would accept her prediction, because she delivered it in a well cadenced monotone, instead of that shrill, bitchy voice most white women use.
Under pressure to keep his promise about transparency, President Obama relented and allowed the reconciliation meetings to be broadcast on C-Span. A day later, the GOP complained that hundreds of thousands of people in “the Real America” couldn’t watch C-Span, because it was only shown to the elitists who could afford cable. To prove that they weren’t hiding anything the Democrats agreed to simulcast the meetings on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and the Jerry Springer Show. Every day the discussion continued, Fox and Friends pointed out that the Democrats on the committee were still clothed and wondered what they were hiding under all those layers of worsted wool.
On April 17th, the Health Care Bill passed both houses with the precise minimum number required to block a filibuster. In an historical footnote, the winning vote in the Senate was cast by Senator Joe Lieberman, who as a compromise was given the right to vote last by descending from the ceiling of the chamber on guy-wires wearing angel wings. As he neared the platform, one of Russ Feingold’s interns jiggled the pulley, and Lieberman’s left shoe fell on the “Aye” button.
The next day, the President told Americans that the law wasn’t perfect, but it met most of his stated goals:
- The vast majority of Americans who had coverage stood a good chance of keeping it.
- The 30 million Americans who couldn’t even afford health care if they quit eating would now be able to sort of afford it if they cut back to one meal a day.
- The only pre-existing conditions that would allow insurers to cancel coverage were illnesses that end in “-itis.”
- No insurance policy either privately or publicly funded would be allowed to pay for a legal abortion. However, several Ronald McDonald Houses would be retrofitted to provide counseling for women who had been medically diagnosed as “having gotten themselves knocked up.”
The only other compromise agreed to by the Democrats was that $80 million was directed toward a project to re-animate the corpse of Terri Shiavo.
Next on the docket was the repeal of Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, which the Obama administration retitled: Ask Whenever You Want, but We Don’t Have to Tell Until After the Midterm Elections. The Democrats swore that they would not compromise on the right of gays and lesbians to imagine a day in the future when they wouldn’t be considered complete aberrations. President Obama said he would refuse to pass ANY legislation that didn’t at least guarantee the rights of homosexual couples to attend the weddings of others. The GOP swore to fight tooth-and-nail against the loosening of any restrictions on homosexual encounters unless they took place in airport rest room stalls or the private offices of televangelists—the way God Intended. Senator Enzi of Wyoming told Glen Beck “Not only will they have to tell, but they will have to tell on C-Span!” Barney Frank promised that there would be a vote on the repeal no later than January 2011. Joe Lieberman went shopping for ankle laced dress shoes.
Next: The Year in Sports!