The high sea­son for fraud and farce

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

Pres­i­dent Obama fi­nally made it back to fa­mil­iar and frozen Copen­hagen last week, scene of his ear­lier suc­cess in winning the Olympics for Chicago, try­ing to fig­ure out a way to make zero plus zero amount to some­thing big. His prospects are not good.

He left be­hind a chaotic de­bate over his health care “re­form,” a de­bate awash in irony, con­fu­sion and in­credulity. The next stop is farce. Oba­maCare, which the pres­i­dent promised would be a sim­ple, thrifty, eco­nom­i­cal cure-all for the health care sys­tem, runs to 2,074 pages that a room­ful of Philadel­phia lawyers (or worse, Wash­ing­ton lawyers) couldn’t parse. But what ev­ery­body does un­der­stand is that it will cost $2.5 tril­lion — that’s a “t,” not a “b” — that vastly ex­pands the gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy, raises taxes and pre­mi­ums on pri­vate in­sur­ance and dev­as­tates Medi­care, and prob­a­bly only make things worse. Other than that, it’s a start.

“And here’s the ou­tra­geous part,” says Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky, the leader of the Se­nate Repub­li­cans. “At the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one out­side the ma­jor­ity leader’s of­fice has even seen. The fi­nal bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrats have been try­ing to work out in pri­vate.”

But the dis­gust with Oba­maCare, in the ver­sion no­body seems to have seen, goes be­yond harsh par­ti­san as­sess­ment. Howard Dean, the for­mer chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and some­time pres­i­den­tial wannabe, says if he had a vote, he would cast it against the “cur­rent” health care bill. He doesn’t like it be­cause it doesn’t go far enough in ex­pand­ing bu­reau­cracy, rais­ing taxes and pre­mi­ums and dev­as­tat­ing Medi­care. Not only that, he sounds fed up with the pres­i­dent him­self. “Some­times the coun­try is more im­por­tant. I’m go­ing to sup­port Pres­i­dent Obama when he runs for re-elec­tion. Not vig­or­ously.”

The car­ni­val in Copen­hagen has al­ready de­scended into farce. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton gave the global-warm­ing give­away the bless­ings of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on Dec. 17 with a pro­posal that “the de­vel­oped na­tions” — the na­tions of the West and mostly the United States — con­trib­ute $100 bil­lion a year for 10 years to prop up var­i­ous regimes of the Third World while they learn to do some­thing about their emis­sions.

Some of the “emis­sions” are en­ter­tain­ing. Hugo Chavez, the pres­i­dent of Venezuela, took his al­lot­ted five min­utes be­fore the Copen­hagen as­sem­bly to give a half-hour lec­ture on base­ball, Karl Marx, Fidel Cas­tro, Si­mon Bo­li­var, Je­sus Christ, the state of the world and the aw­ful evils of the evil United States. He’s not happy with the Copen­hagen car­ni­val, ei­ther. “It’s not demo­cratic, it is not in­clu­sive. But isn’t that the re­al­ity of the world? The world is re­ally an im­pe­rial dic­ta­tor­ship. Down with im­pe­rial dic­ta­tor­ships! A si­lent and ter­ri­ble ghost is in the room, and that ghost is called cap­i­tal­ism.”

Well, ghosts are al­ways si­lent, at least the ghosts be­yond the bor­ders of Venezuela, and ghosts, ter­ri­ble or not, can’t hurt you. But Mr. Chavez got an amen from Robert Mu­gabe, who has turned Rhode­sia, once a gar­den in the heart of Africa, into the dump called Zim­babwe. “When th­ese cap­i­tal­ist gods of car­bon burp and belch their danger­ous emis­sions, it’s we the lesser mor­tals who gasp and sink and even­tu­ally die.”

The Chavez and Mu­gabe rants were greeted by the thun­der of rap­tur­ous ap­plause, but the man from the is­land repub­lic of Tu­valu, of which few del­e­gates had ever heard, was the crowd fa­vorite. Ian Fry, the Tu­val­uan del­e­gate, broke down in a speech beg­ging for “tough action” against the evil na­tions of the West. “I woke up this morn­ing cry­ing, and that’s not easy for a grown man to ad­mit. The fate of my coun­try rests in your hands.”

This was enough to flush a cynic’s mock­ery with hot salty tears, but it’s not clear just which coun­try Mr. Fry is talk­ing about. He’s a Ph.D. can­di­date at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Uni­ver­sity, but what does he have to do with Tu­valu? Asked by re­porters whether he had ever lived in Tu­valu, his wife replied: “I’d rather not com­ment.”

Pres­i­dent Obama had to be up to his game with a speech to fol­low pur­ple stuff like that. He could win cheers ri­val­ing those of Hugh Chavez and Robert Mu­gabe with news of how his ad­min­is­tra­tion is leapfrog­ging Congress to im­pose global-warm­ing re­stric­tions though the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. Copen­hagen is weird com­pany for a pres­i­dent of the United States, but Mr. Obama could feel right at home.

Copen­hagen star: Hugo Chavez

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