Or, Harry Houdini, as NRO put it.

Sen. Harry Reid has been a kind of reverse Houdini with
a talent for getting into traps. To appease Democratic moderates, he
proposed to drop the public option, which made liberals furious. To get
back in their good graces, he suggested expanding Medicare by letting
people as young as 55 participate in it — but that led Sen. Joe
Lieberman to threaten to join Republicans in a filibuster. If Reid
manages to cobble together a deal that gets 60 votes, he may find that
it cannot win majority approval in the House. The Senate and House do
not, for example, see eye to eye on abortion funding. And if Reid and
Nancy Pelosi somehow squeak something through Congress, they may walk
into the biggest trap of all. They will have pushed through a major,
unpopular piece of legislation on a party-line vote.

Sen. Harry Reid is keeping just about everyone from knowing what’s
in the Senate version of the health care bill. Some politicians and
media are blaming the Republicans for not contributing to the process,
or not offering their own solutions. But in both houses of Congress,
they have been shut out, and it’s all taking place behind closed doors.
So by last account, when this thing is finally released to members of
the Senate, they’ll have somewhere between 24 and 36 hours to read it
before they have to vote on it.

So much for government transparency.

Senator John McCain of Arizona accused Democrats of
violating President Barack Obama’s promises of transparency by
finalizing the sweeping health bill behind closed doors.

McCain said Friday that given the secrecy, it’s reasonable to demand
changes to the legislation be read aloud. That could take many hours
and jeopardize Democrats’ goal of passing the bill by Christmas.

But that’s the idea, since setting a goal like that about something
so massive and unknown is unrealistic in the first place. This will
affect the lives of every American. These are our elected officials.
The people deserve information and input into how their representatives
are, or aren’t, representing them.

All we hear are charges, counter-charges, and infighting in
Congress. And out of Congress, for that matter, since former Democratic
party chairman Howard Dean said he would vote to kill the bill, if he
could. Which proves how bizarre this fiasco has become.

“If you live long enough, all things can happen,” Sen.
John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the Senate floor. “I now find myself in
complete agreement with Dr. Howard Dean, who says that we should stop
this bill in its tracks. … Dr. Dean, I am with you.”

But Dean’s opposition is for totally different reasons than the
bill’s highest profile Democratic opponent of the moment, Sen. Ben
Nelson.

All eyes were on the only known Democratic holdout,
moderate Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, whose primary concern is that
abortion funding restrictions in the bill were too lax…”Without
modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient,” he
said earlier in the day in a written statement that summarized the
results of days of private negotiations. The second-term Nebraskan
opposes the procedure and wants tighter restrictions written into the
overhaul.

Which would kill it for liberal Democrats who insist on having abortion funding in the bill.

Liberals are furious over the compromises Reid had to make to keep the bill alive.

Would that they should be so impassioned over provisions to keep all people alive.

But that’s too reasonable. The rush and secrecy and political fighting are keeping people in Congress from thinking clearly.

There’s political panic among our Democratic friends. It
means that you’re trying to round up the votes and you forgot what
you’re voting for. You just want to pass a bill, and you really don’t
care what’s in it. You make up a new idea every week and see if it will
stick to the wall. And if it doesn’t work, you replace it with another
idea. And you keep the details away from the American public and your
political opponents so they can’t see what you’re doing. That’s
somebody in a panic.

Sen. Harry Reid clearly is. Sen. Ben Nelson thankfully is not.

“The compromise adds important new initiatives
addressing teen pregnancy and tax credits to help with adoptions,”
Nelson said Thursday in a written statement, referring to a compromise
offered by a fellow anti-abortion Democrat, Sen. Bob Casey of
Pennsylvania. “These are valuable improvements that will make a
positive difference and promote life.”

And that’s what health care reform should be all about.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....