The fight over Obamacare, we were told on Capitol Hill today, is right out of a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”
“We’re not in Kansas anymore,” Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas. The health-care law’s advocates and adversaries, he said, had entered a “parallel universe.”
“I know we’re not in Kansas,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, “but I do believe increasingly we’re in Oz because of what I see here.”
Sebelius actually was born in Cincinnati, the secretary had to explain to the committee. “I married a Kansan and went to Kansas.”
Yet, if the president’s secretary of Health and Human Services — the Cabinet member who today apologized publicly for the flaws in Obamacare’s website and accepted full responsibility for what one committee member first called “the debacle” — is standing in for Judy Garland playing Dorothy in this high drama, the question arises:
Who’s playing the rest of the cast of the 1939 classic?
Jack Haley’s Tin Man may be hard to replicate, but we may need to cast Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s tech-czar enlisted to fix HealthCareGov., as the website clearly requires some oil in its rusted joints.
Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow could be played by Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who cleared the Senate floor with a mock filibuster about defunding Obamacare only to reveal as the government was partially shut down on Oct. 1 — as the Obamacare website was rolled out — that he had no exit strategy for the House’s Republicans demanding the same. He certainly has a brain, though.
Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion? Might House Speaker John Boehner try out for the role as one who couldn’t stand up to the Caucus of No within his party’s ranks yet ultimately found the courage to hold a vote on a “clean” budget and debt bill?
Frank Morgan, who of course played multiple roles, as gatekeeper, guard, carriage driver and the wizard himself, can only be played by Obama, whose signature health-care law is offering insurance for a kingdom of uninsured. “People went to see the wizard because of the wonderful things he did,” one congressman from Iowa, Democrat Bruce Braley, said today. “He is the president,” Sebelius said before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “He is responsible for government programs.”
As for witches good and bad, let’s leave that to the imagination of the reader lest this runaway trope bruise anyone’s feelings too badly.
Finally, though, Bo, the first dog, will have to stand in for Toto, as Sebelius has no apparent pet of her own in this play — though Republicans generally are calling Obamacare a dog.
“Dorothy at some point in the movie turns to her little dog Toto and says, `Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ Barton told Sebelius, who now will have to advise the president that they definitely are still in Washington.