A few months back I wrote a column in honor of recently deceased Andy Rooney. This is modeled after noted humor columnist Art Buchwald who died in 2007 at age 81.
He was the master of fictional interviews that got to the heart of matters better than most actual news interviews. Here's how he might have quizzed the two presidential candidates on health care reform, only his interview would actually have been very funny.
So this is the format without that special wit or twist, or Buchwald on a very off day if he ever had any. Hey, he was the master humorist.
Buchwald: Let's get to it: The Health Care Law. Is it Obamacare or is it Romneycare?
Mitt Romney: It was Romneycare back when I was the governor of Massachusetts, and then it was a good thing. Now it's Obamacare, and it's a bad thing.
Barack Obama: He's partly right and partly wrong. It was Romneycare, and then it was a bad thing. Now it's Obamacare, and it's a good thing.
R: Another big difference. The Supreme Court said the national mandatory purchasing of coverage is a tax. They did not rule on state plans, thus the Massachusetts mandatory purchasing of coverage is a penalty. Not a tax. Neah. Neah.
B: Governor you just violated our agreed upon no neah-neah rule: no gloating or taunting.
R: Sorry I just couldn't resist. Nea oops.
O: No offense taken. Justice Roberts zinged us both with that ruling, allowing the Act to stand but tossing in the dreaded T word.
B: So, does that effectively sum it up? Are the differences and similarities quite clear?
R: Maybe some history would help. Before it was Romneycare it was Hillarycare, only that was only a plan. Republicans then came up with a counter plan that was very close to what I implemented as governor of Massachusetts.
O: And being the community organizer person that I am, I attempted to bring everyone together with a plan that was essentially the other side's plan. Only they would have none of that. Nothing I tried worked, so I turned it over to Nancy Pelosi. She got it passed.
B: So you are saying that Hillary Clinton formulated a plan that led to a Republican counter plan that you, Governor Romney, implemented in the state of Massachusetts? And you, President Obama, proposed essentially the same plan for the nation, and House Leader Pelosi pushed it through Congress?
B: Why am I thinking of the movie "Iron Lady," the one about Margaret Thatcher?
O and R: Uh. Because you're thinking of iron ladies?
B: You guys are sharp, and right with me on this. Hillary Clinton started the whole thing and Nancy Pelosi got it done.
O: Well, OK, I guess so.
R: Well, yes, I suppose.
B: So what's the problem now? Is it just semantics?
R: Semantics are important.
O: Don't I know it, like with "penalty" or "tax."
B: I don't suppose it would work to include Republican or Conservative in the name as well as Hillary and Pelosi?
B: How about something giving more credit to conservatives yet also to the women who did the heavy lifting?
R and O: Uh. We've got it!
B: And it is
O and R: Thatchercare.
B: By Jove, I think you have got it. That's all the time we have, gentlemen. Thank you.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)