Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius yesterday endured three-and-a-half hours of often intense cross-examination by House Energy and Commerce Committee members.

Hundreds of questions were asked and Sebelius responded to each and every one of them during a hearing exchange that ran to many thousands of words to be entered into the Congressional Record.

But it was a mere five words quietly muttered by Sebelius that captured the issue at the heart of the Obamacare debate: "Don't do this to me."

Take your medicine

Whatever else it may have done, the epic failure of the Obamacare website has uniquely focused public attention on the essential feature of the program — individual Americans are under orders by their federal government to buy a product regardless of whether they need or want it.

Failure to do as ordered will result in a fine. It's a modest levy today but both the amount and severity of the fine will increase in the coming years as Obamacare stumbles from one inevitable crisis to another.

The reality is that Obamacare is government by decree of the ruler, not government by consent of the governed: You will do as we say, not as you choose.

What you can't keep

Sebelius was asked repeatedly during Wednesday's hearing about President Obama's now-infamous promise that "If you like your present health plan, you can keep it" and whether he knew when making it that it was false.

There is abundance evidence that he knew or should have known, but whether Obama said it purposely isn't as important as what he left out of the promise: "If you like your present health plan, you can keep it if we say you can."

Five little words

The reason Obama didn't include those five little words is because he and his advisors knew doing so would have doomed Obamacare from the start.

Tell most Americans they must do something and their instinctive reaction is to resist. That's what consent of the governed is all about — we choose for ourselves, the government doesn't choose for us.

Since its passage, Obamacare has never enjoyed majority support from the American public. However inadvertently, Sebelius captured in those five little words what most Americans think about Obamacare: Don't do this to me.

In today's Washington Examiner

Editorial: Obama, Reid push liberal court-packing effort.

Examiner Watchdog: Former top VA official takes Fifth, refuses to discuss controversial employee conferences.

Susan Crabtree: NSA chief says media exaggerates spying to sell papers.

Joseph Lawler: Federal Reserve keeps stimulus in place.

Joel Gehrke: Rahm Emanuel says 'heads are rolling' over Obamacare problems.

Philip Klein: appears to violate White House guidance on web security.

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The Washington Post: NSA secretly taps Yahoo, Google data center links.

The New York Times: Contrite White House spurns health care law's critics.

The Washington Times: U.S. commandoes made it to Benghazi during 9/11 attack.

New York Post: Biden's niece tells cops they 'don't know who you're doing this to.'

USA Today: Pakistan says 3 percent of drone deaths are civilians.

ABC News: U.S. company negotiating for release of Americans held by pirates.

Righty Playbook

Daily Caller: Gov. Mitch Daniels says country that can't build Keystone pipeline 'isn't serious about helping poor people.'

The American Spectator: The heartlessness of the matter.

Washington Free Beacon: Western jihadists suspected in Tiananmen terrorist attack.

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: CNN's Wolf Blitzer calls CNN's Newt Gingrich to account.

Washington Monthly: The plot to enact single-payer advances.

America Blog: 12-year-old gives rocking voting rights speech.