Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Dead you know."

"Did you hear this one," legendary comedian Stan Laurel wrote to a friend in 1963, "Two Englishmen: 'Heard you buried your wife last week.' 'Oh yes. Had to -- dead you know.'"

Not everyone is so matter-of-fact in the face of bad news.

"It can't be dead, it shouldn't be dead, and I'm presuming won't be dead," Democratic pollster and strategist Stanley Greenberg told an audience on Wednesday, speaking of the health care reform bill.

"No, no, it's resting, look!"

"Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one and I'm looking at one right now."

"No, no sir, it's not dead. It's resting."

President Obama has invited congressional leaders of both parties to a televised health care summit on February 25. "Let's put the best ideas on the table," he said.

"Remarkable bird the Norwegian Blue, beautiful plumage, innit?"

"The plumage don't enter into it - it's stone dead."

"No, no - it's just resting."

Politico reported today that nine Democratic senators have signed a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "to bring the public option back up for a vote."

"It's bleeding demised."

"It's not, it's pining."

"It's not pining, it's passed on. This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot."

"The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market -- both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices," Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet wrote in his letter to Majority Leader Reid, "A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules."

'Reconciliation' is an arcane Senate procedure invented for passing budget bills without permitting filibusters. It can only be used to pass measures that relate directly to the federal budget. A provision requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, for example, wouldn't qualify.

"A reconciliation bill won't work," Politico reported, quoting Lawrence O'Donnell, who was staff director of the Democratic Senate Finance Committee during the '93-'94 health care debate. "When people talk about its 51-vote threshold they're forgetting that is just the final vote. Every day the bill is on the floor it will face 60-vote procedural hurdles. For instance, should Republicans challenge a provision's inclusion and get a favorable ruling from the parliamentarian, without 60 votes, Democrats will be unable to overturn it – leading to a bill that looks more like Swiss cheese than health reform."

O'Donnell said the health care bill went into its "death throes" when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "We don't have the votes for passing the Senate bill."

"That should have just ended it," O'Donnell said. "Any discussion of another scenario is juvenile. It's ridiculous."

Since Election Night in Massachusetts, O'Donnell told Politico, Democrats have moved into "full bluff mode" in order to keep their liberal base from going "bonkers."

"If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies."

"We need to take our time" getting to a final health care bill, President Obama told donors and supporters of Organizing for America, his former campaign operation. He said a pause will allow "everybody to get the real facts."

We've got them, thanks.

"This is an ex-parrot!"

Copyright 2010

Source note: The Dead Parrot Sketch is of course from Monty Python's Flying Circus, available on DVD from

Editor's note: You might be interested in the previous America Wants To Know posts on health care reform:

Tom Daschle: Done
Step right up to see the Amazing Health Care Reform!
Just kill it
Gazing into the future
Bad at math
Yes we can and no we won't
The big half truth
The right to kill health care reform
The secret health plan
The midnight sausage factory
Why health care reform will fail
History, and history
Predicting slavery
Health Care Reform Dinner Theater
Punch Lines