Senator Mary Landrieau deserves an Oscar for her performance leading up to last night's Senate vote on cloture to officially open the Senate floor to debate over the long awaited healthcare legislation. She certainly won the best actor award among a cast of dozens last night, walking away with 300 million dollars in federal money as a trophy for the state of Louisiana.
Those fake pained expressions of Senators Landrieau and Lincoln have stared out from TV sets and websites for the past two weeks, as if they were agonizing over a decision that would end life as we know it in America. The White House has done a pretty good job of keeping up the ruse themselves, encouraging the heightened emotional tenor about what is really a cost containment bill in a way that tugs at the population's sense of what is right and wrong.
A more accurate, but decidedly less appealing name would be the "If We Don't Do This Your Government Will Go Broke Bill". But in the land of 29% credit card rates, mortgages with balloon payments, and payday lenders who have people knocking down their doors to get in, approaching something like this strictly from a dollars and sense perspective, with the idea that common sense and logic would prevail in the minds of the public and Congress, would have been a total waste of time.
My parents were in town this weekend. So we sat over an extended dinner and talked, with my father offering story after story of South Carolina politicians from the 50's and 60's who used every opportunity to enrich themselves or their cronies and extend the reach of their powers within the community at large. The same political charades that went on then in my home state are going on now in your Congress, with senators who will be playing the press statement version of "Texas Holdem" for the next few weeks, all of them posturing and bluffing each other for the inevitable deal making that will be required to secure their votes.
I guess you could say that the next few weeks will really be like watching a poker tournament, with all of the subterfuge and bluffing that goes along with it. Except the stakes they are playing with, and the pile of money in the middle of the table - it's all ours.