THE BLOG
08/30/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Heavenly Host of Health Care Authors

The health care bill is 1,000+ pages. As long as the Old and New Testaments, with a few centuries of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire tacked on. That in itself raises justifiable suspicions as to what is in it. All conceivable explanations for such unseemly length suggest that these doubts are well founded.

The legion of authors is one reason. Most all congressmen, their armada of staffers, armies of lobbyists, and even the occasional White House operative have had a hand in writing this opus. Unhappily, the all too common motivations of ego satisfaction and promotion of self-interest are a lethal combination as far as the public interest is concerned. That's one. Then there are the myriad of qualifiers, addenda and exemptions incorporated at the behest of some special pleading party or other. That's two.

Complexity and rephrased repetitions similarly serve to open opportunities for dispute as to what exactly has and has not been stipulated. Multiple interpretations can be a form of compromise between drafters and/or a way for legislators to put their own spin on the bill when defending it before constituents. That's three. Confusion as to specific aims and purposes also can be the more or less innocent outcome of a turgid, wearisome process. To quote the prophet Isaiah, "Take counsel together and it shall come to nought." Protracted deliberations on this scale pretty much ensure that we have gone beyond 'nought' and passed into negative territory. Amazingly, Isaiah had this blazing insight without ever serving on a Congressional committee or having attended a faculty meeting. That is four.

A persuasive explanation can be compounded of all four hypotheses. That is not reassuring, especially for those who doubtless will encounter the hardships of trying to obtain affordable medical care -- the point of the exercise, supposedly.

Those of a more positive frame of mind will be free to celebrate the modest signs of bipartisanship that marked the bill's tortuous odyssey. No small thing; after all, even the Good Book is bipartisan. Consider the fair and balanced admonitions of Matthew (7:7): "Seek and you shall find," he counsels Republicans while comforting Democrats with the words, "ask and you shall be given." Perhaps reflections on Scripture will give Barack Obama peace of mind on his holidays.