Friday, March 05, 2010

Barack Obama's Rockettes problem

When the world famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes go into their signature high-kick routine, it appears to the audience that the dancers have their arms around each other's waists. But they don't.

"Rockettes don't actually hold on to each other," Rockette Kristin Jantzie explained in an interview, "We just gently touch the velvet of the costume."

That's so they don't all come crashing down if one of them falls.

Like the Rockettes, Members of Congress stand for election every two years in their own districts, each on their own two feet, not quite connected to the other members of their party, whatever it may look like from the audience.

President Obama called Democratic lawmakers to the White House on Thursday and reportedly instructed them that voting against health care reform would hurt their chances of re-election this fall.

Good luck with that.

If they didn't know how to get elected in their districts, they wouldn't be there in the first place.

While they're in Washington, Members of Congress have every reason to play along with the party leadership. That's how they get good committee assignments and that's how they get provisions added to legislation that will help them get re-elected.

Then they go home and campaign.

Sometimes they don't even include their party affiliation in their ads.

They know what they're doing. This is their area of expertise. This is what they do.

And there's nothing wrong with that. It's representative government in action. If the health care bill doesn't have enough votes in Washington, it's because it doesn't have enough support in the country.

So President Obama shouldn't be calling lawmakers in to instruct them.

He should be calling them in to listen to them.

Last November, President Obama pressured reluctant House Democrats to cast a difficult vote for the health care reform bill, telling the lawmakers that their 'yes' vote was necessary to keep the process moving forward.

This week the White House told those same Democrats that they can't 'flip-flop' now and vote no.

Sure they can.

Just watch them.

They're not going to fall like dominoes if they can help it.

Copyright 2010

Editor's note: You might be interested in the earlier America Wants To Know post, "Dead you know."