We have come to one of those laugh-or-cry moments in American life when absurdity does a little dance with potential disaster.
Republicans in the House want to shut down the government and even default on the nation's debt obligations unless they are allowed to defund the president's health care plan.
What is with this strange Republican obsession with health care anyway? It is downright weird. Do they think health care is like a country club -- no point in being a member if everybody has privileges?
Why, I like a nice obsession as much as the next person. I see nothing wrong with bird watching, for example, so long as the constant staring doesn't make the birds nervous. There's not even anything wrong with obsessively supporting certain sports teams, although that sometimes constitutes a serious breach of good taste. (No names -- you know who you are, Baltimore Ravens fans.)
But personally, when it comes to obsessions, I think Monty Python's lumberjack had the OK attitude -- he sleeps all night, works all day, cuts down trees, wears high heels, suspenders and a bra. While this is not for me personally -- hey, I don't want to work all day -- the activity demands respect because it is adult.
Contrast that with the great Republican Obamacare obsession. It is nothing less than a childish hissy fit, the sort formerly reserved for spoiled brats but now turned into political policy for pretend adults. How many House votes have there now been to defund Obamacare, 42? Kiddies, can you say unhealthy obsession?
Real adults will recall that less than a year ago, an election was held and Americans by a convincing margin voted to retain President Barack Obama and by extension his health care plan.
His opponent, Mitt Romney, the former governor who inconveniently had his own, similar health care plan in Massachusetts, vowed to get rid of the dreaded Obamacare first thing if he got the chance, which he didn't.
In less juvenile times, this was called a mandate, a quaint word in a time when elections apparently don't count to conservatives but public opinion polls do.
It is true that public opinion is currently against Obamacare. Some 53 percent disapproved of it in a Pew poll this month. But of that group, 27 percent want to see it made to work as well as possible while only 23 percent want it to be made to fail.
In other words, the Republicans, having lost the game last November, now want to pick up the ball and take it home in the traditional way of child losers -- and all for the benefit of not even one quarter of American grown-ups.
It is fair to say that the Founding Fathers, ironically venerated by the new class of political crybabies, would be disgusted. They had the old-fashioned notion that those elected to Congress should work to settle the nation's problems, not deliberately set out to compound them.
Unfortunately, if the government is shut down and defaults over a totally manufactured crisis, there is a chance that the still-ailing economy will roll over and put its feet in the air like classic road kill.
Only it won't be road kill -- it will be Rep.-kill. And just as Republicans have never let Mr. Obama blame his predecessor (who's he?) for royally trashing the economy, they won't get away with blaming Mr. Obama for the problem they have taken ownership of.
No president -- Democrat or Republican -- can afford to accept the hostage-takers demands' and hand government over to members of a cranky minority. Besides, Obamacare won't destroy liberty -- that's just the obsession talking.
So be it understood, congressional kiddies, there will be no blaming Mr. Obama for this crisis. This is the lesson the rest of us learned in kindergarten: You spill the milk and cookies, you have to clean up. It is called personal responsibility.
The rest of us adults are really going to get mad if you torpedo the recovering economy. By the time you finish making Mr. Obama look good, your most dependable voters are likely to be disgusted, too.
Want to end Obamacare? Win a presidential election. Want to win a presidential election? Act like responsible adults. Now there's something to become obsessed about.
As it is, GOP lumberjacks and lumberjills, all you are doing is sleeping all night, working all day, cutting down Obamacare, wearing high heels, suspenders and a bra but doing it like obscenely obsessed, self-indulgent children. We wouldn't mind if your tantrum wasn't threatening the country, but it is.reghenry
Reg Henry: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1668.