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Obama: Do Not Fear; This Health-Care Bill Puts Us on the Edge of a Large, Scary Cliff

5:15 PM, Dec 15, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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It was with an odd statement that Obama announced the progress he had made in meetings with Senate Democrats today on the health-care bill he's desperate to pass by Christmas, no matter what's in it.

"We are on the precipice of an achievement that has eluded Congresses and presidents for generations," Obama told reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats for about an hour at the White House complex.

If you're thinking to yourself that the word "precipice" has negative connotations, and you're wondering why the great orator would use it to illustrate his grand victory, you have reason to wonder. Here are the two definitions of the word, both quite unnerving when applied to the health-care debate:

1. a cliff with a vertical, nearly vertical, or overhanging face.
2. a situation of great peril:

If Bush had done it, the clip would have been on loop as Freudian proof of Bush's dislike of Americans and his intention to get rid of them via risky health-care overhaul, but when the greatest orator of our time stumbles over his words, nary a newscaster will mention it.

But maybe I'm underestimating Obama. Perhaps his intent was to delve into our collective cultural memory to evoke famous, inspiring cliff imagery from American cinema as a metaphor for his great generational health-care triumph.

You know, like, this one:


Hm, maybe that's not the one he was going for. What about something more recent?


Nope, still not terribly excited about the precipice, Mr. President.


Well, that's just depressing. One more try:


Well, in that last one, they do at least get out alive, so maybe the President is trying out a new pitch. "Obamacare: You could get off this frightening, sheer cliff face alive, but you will hang in terror for a while unsure about your fate." Come to think of it, that is rather apt. Touché, Mr. President. Touché. Welcome to the precipice.