In December 1944, the German army tried to reverse the tide of World War II with a last-gasp offensive that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The goal wasn’t victory per se, so much as delay — if the Allied onslaught could be held at bay for a few extra months, the tensions between the U.S./Britain and the Soviet Union (which would later result in the Iron Curtain and the Cold War) might cause their coalition to fray enough that Germany could negotiate a separate peace deal.
Succeeding at first, the Nazis quickly surrounded the Belgian town of Bastogne. They sent a gloating letter to the American general there, saying "The fortune of war is changing…" and recommending that his forces surrender. Famously, the general (Anthony McAuliffe) sent a one-word reply: "Nuts!"
That’s basically what happened this afternoon in the healthcare-reform debate in Washington, D.C., as several members of the Narcissism Caucus in the Senate sent a letter urging that congressional leaders delay their consideration of reform legislation. President Obama then hastily pre-empted a scheduled press briefing to give a direct statement to reporters, insisting that "now is not the time to slow down," and, "We are going to get this done. We will reform health care. it will happen this year."
Hopefully, Obama’s confidence is as justified as Gen. McAuliffe’s was. Because another historical echo of the Senate faux-centrists’ letter is August 1994, when uber-wanker Sen. Bob Kerrey made a similarly ostentatious plea for delay and supposed moderation, insisting that although he wanted reform, he didn’t want the debate to be "covered in partisan spit."
In fact, though, Kerrey’s feigned desire for bipartisanship provided the Republicans with the political cover needed to kill the 1994 reform effort — and that’s clearly the model that the current "gang of six" is trying to duplicate.
Fortunately, you and I have something to say to that gang and their strategy: NUTS!