The sweet smell of bipartisanship (think of a Cinnabon bun) was in the air at the outset of President Obama's health-care reform summit yesterday. The table had been changed from U-shaped to O-shaped so that Republicans would have more TV face time in explaining why they have been nakedly obstructionist on the most important legislative initiative of my lifetime.
They did not disappoint.
Republicans, of course, had been deriding the extraordinary event as "political theater," but they were the biggest actors -- and petulant ones at that -- over the four-hour gabathon, and the sweet smell quickly turned to swamp gas as Senator Lamar Alexander, physician of Tennessee, kicked things off with a litany of reasons why Republicans would not support any form of reform remotely resembling what Obama says Americans need and the House and Senate have more or less legislated.
Alexander's remarks translated crudely into "it's quite all right with us that there are 45 million uninsured Americans and millions more underinsured because they're too dumb to vote or vote Democratic if they do. Oh, and if you have a pre-existing condition, screw you."
From there things went downhill faster than Lindsey Vonn.
The gold medal winner was Senator Tom Coburn, veterinarian of Oklahoma, who blamed food stamps for diabetes and obesity, which doesn't have bupkis to do with reform and is dead wrong anyway.
The silver medal went to the Republicans, too numerous to mention, who believe the health-care reform is unconstitutional, and the bronze to those who want to abolish Medicare and replace it with vouchers but claim they're opposing reform to save Medicare.
A majority of Americans support reform even if they don't like the inner workings of the congressional sausage factory. Me neither. But they will get at least a watered down version of reform, and come election time in November there will be Republican who will rue their obstructionism when voters put on the latex gloves and tell them to bend over and cough.