The last time I heard someone utter, "Don't worry -- no one will ever know," the response was, "What are you smoking, crack?"
The crack comment was not meant literally, but figuratively. It made its point: Don't assume that you can get away with something; people do find out, and you have to think through decisions. The result: The action suggested was not taken -- success.
We all experience those moments. The moment when someone in the room says, "Don't worry, no one will ever know." If we are lucky, we have someone else in the room who snaps us back to reality. Someone who asks, "Are you serious?" Someone who reminds us to stay on the right path.
Others might not have anyone to remind them of reality and might instead go with the flow. This week's controversy over Rielle Hunter's GQ photos, one of Hunter lying on a bed in what appears to be only a white shirt, is an aide memoire of what might happen. According to Hunter, she went with the flow on the photo shoot, but when she saw the photos she "found them repulsive."
Most people understand that when they take their pants off during a photo shoot for a magazine, or it looks like they took their pants off, that the pictures might be published.
Hunter needed someone standing next to her during the photo shoot saying: "Seriously, what are you thinking? Of course the photos will be used. That's why they take them."
With this week's health care vote, that's the voters' job. To snap the House back to reality. "Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Monday.
Since no House member wants to vote for the Senate bill, Pelosi is trying to figure out how to get the legislation enacted without having a direct vote on it.
Pelosi is stuck. If she wants to deliver health care legislation to President Obama to sign, she must do so using the existing Senate bill.
This week, the focus has been on how it might be possible to send the legislation to the president without the House voting for it. The House does not agree with the Senate bill, and as Pelosi noted, House members do not want to vote for it.
As some might say: These are facts, not problems. The question the House leadership is wrestling with is how to manipulate the process, recognizing the facts, to produce the results desired.
One of the paths to completion the House is considering is to pass an amendment to the Senate bill; once the amendment is passed, the underlying Senate bill will be deemed to have passed without a vote.
The House would, in effect, be passing a bill it didn't vote on.
This process of voting on the amendments and deeming the bill passed would allow House members to return home and say, "I didn't vote for the Senate bill." They could pass a lie-detector test with flying colors. The statement would be truth, but not necessarily truthful.
Possibly this is a new version of truthiness.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert might not have invented the word truthiness, but he certainly raised its profile enough for it to become the Merriam-Webster 2006 word of the year. Colbert defined truthiness as "truth that comes from the gut, not books."
It seems we might have a new definition: "technically correct, but not actually true."
"I'm against that, and I think that's really hurting the argument for health care reform when you give the public the appearance that you're not even willing to go on record supporting it," Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., said when asked about this proposed tactic.
Maybe instead of just clouds, there is a bit of haze over Capitol Hill, fogging up our elected officials' thought processes. They need to understand that they cannot just go with the flow on Capitol Hill. The reality is more Americans oppose the health care plan than support it, according to a poll released last week by Gallup.
As for me, I'm glad to have true friends who speak up and bring me back to reality when needed. Let's do the same for Washington.
Don't worry -- everyone will know.
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