Pelosi’s health care message to public: Drop dead 

In a city full of career politicians obsessed with projecting selfless devotion to “the folks back home,” hardly a day goes by without truckloads of the crudest half-truths, willful misrepresentations and blatant exaggerations being passed off as certified fact.

Most of the time, we ink-stained wretches just shake our heads in weary amusement that these groveling minions of transparent flattery can say this stuff with a straight face and think we don’t see through their self-serving humbuggery.

Once in a while, though, one of our esteemed public servants lets slip a whopper so patently outrageous, so completely and obviously false, that we are left in unrelieved astonishment, knowing the speaker either has now lied for so long he no longer can distinguish fact from fantasy, or he thinks we can’t.

Such is the statement Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that “there has never been a more open process” in Congress than the succession of backroom deals, closed-door bickering and arrant manipulation of official data that has marked the flim-flam legislative birthing of Obamacare.

Not since the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 has there been a landmark piece of legislation so utterly lacking in legitimacy with the public. Most Americans now would prefer that Congress — which already ranks near the bottom of public esteem — do nothing on health care reform rather than pass Obamacare as it now stands.

I’ve been around this town since Tip O’Neil held the gavel Pelosi now wields and I don’t recall ever hearing another politician of either party muttering anything of equal mendacity. Well, there was Nixon’s “I am not a crook” and Clinton’s “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” but those two are classics in a class by themselves.

With Pelosi, it took Senate Republican fact-checkers about 12 seconds to compile a representative list of headlines from the past three months that put the lie to Pelosi’s claim.

Here’s just a tiny sampling of what comes up in one Google search:

“Democrats are starting to mash together the Senate and House health care bills. All of the negotiations taking place in secret.” — The Wall Street Journal, 1/2/10.

“After months of buildup, the historic debate on health care reform opens on the Senate floor Monday — But the C-SPAN cameras won’t see the real action.” — Politico, 11/30/09.

“Sen. Harry Reid is conducting ‘backroom negotiations’ to secure votes for the health care bill. — Politico, 11/30/09.

“Small group now leads closed negotiations on health care bill.” — The Washington Post, 10/18/09.

Perhaps the most shocking fact about Pelosi’s assertion is that she said when asked by reporters about a letter to the congressional leadership from C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb requesting permission to put cameras in the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting required to iron out the numerous significant differences between the two chambers’ versions of Obamacare.

In his letter, Lamb noted that “President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system.”

Being the gracious fellow that he is, Lamb didn’t include a reminder in his letter that back during the 2008 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama promised the American people that “we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents.”

Neither did he note Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement during a Nov. 2, 2009, floor speech that “as we head for the finish line, one of the most important parts of this process is transparency.”

But there won’t be any such conference committee meetings for C-SPAN to record for posterity because Pelosi, Reid and Obama are, as they have from the beginning of this process, writing the bill behind closed doors.

Besides, Pelosi added dismissively, there have already been “more than a hundred witnesses” testifying in public congressional hearings and “our many town hall meetings.” That’s more than enough transparency for the boobs beyond the Beltway who can’t understand the complexities of health care reform anyway, right Nancy?

Besides, she said threateningly, “we will do what is necessary to pass this bill.”

In other words, stay the hell out of her way.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog on www.washingtonexaminer.com.

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