The E.R. Option 

The "no" road to Wellville

"You're the disease... I'm the cure."

-(One of the many ridiculous lines uttered by Sylvester Stallone as one of the many absurd characters he's portrayed in one of the many terrible movies he's been in.)

Pretend you're a doctor. But not just any old neuro-derma-procto-cardi-tologist who keeps me waiting in a 10-by-10 room with my pants off while he's lining up a foursome for Wednesday morning. No sir, I mean the sort of doctor who handles emergencies for the Centers for Disease Control and who is always dashing to far corners of the world to head off one horrid epidemic after another. Like Dustin Hoffman in that movie whose name I can't remember, but where a gruesome hemorrhagic plague was causing people to gush blood from every orifice, and he and Cuba Gooding Jr. had to stop it or everyone in America would be drained as dry as a box of fruity Franzia at a pre-prom party. That kind of doctor.

Now, Doctor, pretend one of those gruesome, civilization-threatening zombie diseases has popped out in one of America's major cities-Washington D.C., say-and you're the only person on the planet who can save us. It will be a thankless task you face, owing in no small part to the fact you belong to a perspicacious minority that has diagnosed the threat correctly, while the majority is either oblivious to it or actually considers the affliction to be a good thing. Yet, no matter how much resistance, criticism and abuse you face, you know this monstrous bug must be stopped, and there is no one to stop it but you.

So how do you go about it? Where do you start? Do you sit around and have policy meetings with other medical professionals, discussing disease options you might present to the public so they won't think you're just a bunch of disease bashers? Do you and your fellow doctors waste valuable time formulating a "wellness" scenario, so that detractors can't accuse you of having no agenda other than obstructing the pestilence?

Certainly not! You spring into action and fight the horror at hand, don't you? There's no time for endless discussion while America succumbs to this foul gangrene, is there? And being one of the few people in a position to help not incapacitated and bedimmed by the sickness, you realize this blight must not be allowed to spread any further. To contain it, you employ every tool at your disposal, from scab-ripping open committee hearings to the time-honored prophylactic filibuster. Later, when all the vital systems have been stabilized and the survivors are thinking clearly again, you can turn your attentions to putting forth alternatives to the disease-regimens that work for health rather than destroy it. But your first and most important duty is to see to it that this epidemic goes no further. So without regard to your own health, well-being or re-election, you strap on your latex gloves and dive in. Go to it, Doc! Hippocrates would be proud.

(I'm having great fun with all the medical imagery, but I've probably ridden this metaphorical gurney about as far as it can go without making it clear to the more literal-minded of my readers that when I use terms like "disease," "affliction" and "plague," I'm really talking about right-wingers. Get it? And of course, by "doctor" and "cure," I mean the Congressional Democrats who seem to have finally found their mission: to resist the Germ-in-Chief at every festering outbreak. The debilitating Social Security reform, for instance, and the nomination of the virulent John "Raging Boil" Bolton as ambassador to the U. N., the nauseating energy package, and most of all, the infecting of the nation's judiciary with such a pervasive virus that it would take a generation of convalescence beyond the Bush regime to cleanse it from our system ... against these and more, the Democrats are positioned like Walt Reed versus Yellow Fever. Like Fleming against syphilis. Like Salk against Polio. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Wrangle, Charles Schummer, mark my words: If there's still a free America after Bush gets done with it, these names will be etched onto the Wall of Guts as antibiotics of uncommon valor. Now, excuse my medical malpractices, but I want to play some more doctor.)

Like a cancer that has thoroughly metastasized to all of the major organs, this Bush disease appears in the punditry glands as an eruption of ugly pustules with names like Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak, Sean Hannity and Bay Buchanan, who slander and malign the Democrats as they go about their Constitutional procedures. George Will and Cal Thomas and Ann Coulter, they bubble and boil on about how the Democrats stand for nothing beyond containing the plague, blocking Bush-as if that weren't a good life's work in itself-and they rumble like carbuncles ready to spew about how the disease in power should get everything it wants.

But the pustules are no real peril. Taking Novak or Coulter as serious problems is like thinking diarrhea causes intestinal disorders, rather than the other way around. You mustn't listen to them, Democrats. It's only the disease talking.

There is a great threat looming, though. From the very heart of what ails us-from the septic souls of Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert and that mother of all yeast infections, Tom DeLay-the disease thinks it has found an open wound from which to launch a "nuclear option" onslaught on the body politic. They intend to mutate the Constitution itself, circumventing the filibuster so that flesh-eating bacteria in the form of theocratic judges can pour unimpeded into our nation's blood stream, corrupting every bodily function and legal decision with ultra-right scar tissue.

Stand firm, good Democrats! Stand firm, good healers! Shut down the Senate, if that's what it takes. And when the seeping Novak-Coulter pustules scream that you're practicing a Terri Schiavo procedure on a vegetative state of the union, ignore them. Diarrhea makes noise, too. But it's only a symptom.

Consider it a quarantine. By closing the Senate's doors, you would be isolating the source of this fever so that it can feed only on itself. Or better yet, it's like putting the victim into a cryogenic freeze until a cure can be found.

By all means, Dems, do whatever's necessary. You're the doctor, Doc. And don't worry about being labeled as obstructionists. There's nothing wrong with obstructing utter destruction. Look at it another way: Pretend you're a fireman ...

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