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Obama's Scarlet Sound Bite
Nov 7, 2013
There should be a red label attached to the Presidency that reads like a list of side effects at the end of a prescription drug commercial: Warning! Occupant likely to be remembered by the most embarrassing thing he or she says while in office. If Bill Clinton had realized that his most memorable line would not be something like “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” but instead “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski,” it might have made no difference. At least he would have been warned. Would Richard Nixon have said “I am not a crook” if it had occurred to him that these words would all but be carved on his tombstone?
It took a while, but “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” has probably become affixed as Barack Obama’s scarlet sound bite. The New York Times says that the President “misspoke” when he say that, which is in itself a lie. To misspeak is to accidently use the wrong words and end up saying something you didn’t intend to say. If Bill Clinton had actually meant to say “I did have sex relations with that woman…” then he misspoke. Of course, Mr. Clinton didn’t misspeak. He lied through his teeth.
It’s hard not to think the same thing about Mr. Obama. He used strikingly unambiguous language on several occasions, both before and after he signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Here is a sample:
If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.
“Period,” repeated twice here, and “no matter what” are the kind of words you use when you want it understood that you mean precisely what you say.
What he said was precisely false. Because of ObamaCare, a lot of Americans have already lost their insurance plans and many will soon be forced to turn to different doctors. It is clear that the Administration knew these things would happen before Mr. Obama said the opposite. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the President’s policy advisors objected to the language above but his political aides overruled them. The White House not only put politics above honesty but also above the long-term interests of the President’s signature legislative achievement.
The President told a big fat lie. One cannot be certain that he knew it was a lie, even if his staff did. After all, when his Justice Department delivered weapons to Mexican drug lords, neither he nor the Attorney General knew anything about it. He didn’t know that Al Qaeda was flying its black flags in the streets of Benghazi in the days before our ambassador was murdered or that Ambassador Stevens had requested more security. The President learned that his Justice Department seized the records of the Associated Press when the rest of us read it in the newspapers. He had no idea that the IRS was targeting conservative groups or that the National Security Agency was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. So if the words he used to describe his own healthcare policy were manifestly fraudulent, well, how would he know?
But surely he knows now. Yet he said this only yesterday:
Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.
I am not sure who “we” is, but this is not what the President said or what he meant to say. He has shot past lying to lying about lying.
There are a lot of reasons why Presidents tell lies, but the most common one is that they make too many promises to too many people. ObamaCare, we were led to believe, would “bend the cost curve downward,” which is to say reduce the burden of health care on state and federal budgets. It would also extend more medical services and health insurance to more people. Finally, it would lower or at least not raise the cost of health insurance for most people (or at least for you, dear listener). You might be able to do two of those things but you probably can’t do all three and that means you are lying to someone.
Over the next year millions of Americans are likely to discover that they cannot keep their health insurance plan or their doctors and that their premiums are about to skyrocket. If the President had been square with us before the last election, we might now be prepared to accept this as the responsible thing to do. He wasn’t and that will make it a lot harder for ObamaCare to work, even if nothing else goes wrong.
Editor's Note: Ken Blanchard is our political columnist from the right. For a left-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Cory Heidelberger every other Wednesday on this site.