All aspects of President Obama's Chicago-style tactics are on display as he cajoles, bullies and bribes the House to pass his health care proposals despite the overwhelming public rejection with which they have been met.
To some, he offers bribes. Rep. Jim Matheson, endangered species -- a Utah Democrat -- succeeded in getting his brother Scott appointed to a federal judgeship. Matheson voted against Obamacare when it first passed the House. With his new-found winnings in his pocket, he now professes to be undecided. He faces a clear conflict between his district and his conscience on the one hand and the bribe to his brother on the other. The conscience will probably lose.
Matheson supports his party 91 percent of the time according to The Washington Post even though John McCain got 58 percent of the vote in his district in 2008. But Matheson got re-elected -- by professing independence from the Democratic Party's liberal line -- with 63 percent of the vote, so he probably figures he can sneak in a vote for health care and still con his district into re-electing him. After all, he's not heavy. He's my brother.
Even as Matheson basks in the glow of presidential bribery, Eric Massa, a renegade Democrat from the Southern Tier of New York state faces his wrath. Massa's sin was to vote against Obamacare. So Pelosi and the ethically challenged House Ethics Committee are investigating him for "verbally abusing" a male member of his staff.
In this age of more serious offenses, using "salty language" to express his displeasure with staff work would not seem to rank high on the list of indictable offenses. If it were, Lyndon Johnson would have been impeached. But Massa is being hung out to dry as an example to other would-be independent-minded Democrats. The attacks on him have gotten so bad that Massa has announced his retirement after only one term in office.
But there is a reward waiting for House members who ignore the wishes and interests of their constituents and vote for Obama's health care proposals. Alan Mollohan has had a pesky FBI investigation hanging over his head for a few years. Now, presto, right before the health care vote, it went away. The Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that the FBI was closing the inquiry.
Mollohan's sin? He pushed for earmarks for nonprofit enterprises in his district and then went into a real estate deal in Florida with the head of the company under financial terms that were distinctly favorable to the congressman. But Mollohan toes the party line and is now getting his unjust reward.
With health care reform coming up for a vote in the next few days, such tactics send a message to the House, where Nancy Pelosi is having trouble lining up her votes: Obama will do anything -- anything at all -- to pass this bill.
For those of us without judgeships or the FBI at our disposal, we can only call and write the swing congressmen (go to dickmorris.com for a list and their phone numbers) or donate to the League of American Voters to step up its fierce media offensive in their districts to urge them to vote no.