Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Limited Grasp Of Reality

During the presidential campaign, the Democratic nominee's website, barackobama.com, included this:

The Obama-Biden plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals purchase new affordable health care options if they are uninsured or want new health insurance. Through the Exchange, any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan or an approved private plan, and income based sliding scale tax credits will be AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE COVERAGE OPTIONS FOR ALL provided for people and families who need it.

Pretty simple, right?

When he responded during that campaign to questions posed to him by The Washington Post, Obama wrote

My plan builds on and improves our current insurance system, which most Americans continue to rely upon, and creates a new public health plan for those currently without coverage. Under my plan, Americans will be able to choose to maintain their current coverage if they choose to. For those without health insurance I will establish a new public insurance program....

Pretty simple, right?

Senator Obama became President Obama, and his (rhetorical) support for the public option did not flag, asserting (video, from DailyKosTV, below) on June 23, 2009

The notion that all these insurance companies who say they’re giving consumers the best possible deal, if they can’t compete against a public plan as one option, with consumers making the decision what’s the best deal, that defies logic, which is why I think you’ve seen in the polling data overwhelming support for a public plan.

And on July 18, he again declared his unambiguous support for the public option, warning (video, from DailyKosTV, way below)

Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans – including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest – and choose what’s best for your family.

But that was then and this is now. The Washington Post reports in "Obama rejects criticism on halth-care reform legislation":

Nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health-care bill," Obama said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Post about his legislative record this year. "Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill...."

He said the Senate legislation accomplishes "95 percent" of what he called for during his 2008 presidential campaign and in his September speech to a joint session of Congress on the need for health-care reform....

Obama said the public option "has become a source of ideological contention between the left and right." But, he added, "I didn't campaign on the public option."

How does one square "perception with reality," as Mr. Obama would put it? In a piece for The Huffington Post, Drew Westin noted "what they're (the American people) are "seeing is weakness, waffling, and wandering through the wilderness without an ideological compass." Although posted two days before the interview with the President took place, Westin's comments neatly apply to Obama's disingenuous remarks about his support for a public option:

I can't stand them (the President's speeches) because I realize he doesn't mean what he says -- or if he does, he just doesn't have the fire in his belly to follow through. He can't seem to muster the passion to fight for any of what he believes in, whatever that is. He'd make a great queen -- his ceremonial addresses are magnificent -- but he prefers to fly Air Force One at 60,000 feet and "stay above the fray...."

To be honest, I don't know what the president believes on anything, and I'm not alone among American voters.

It no longer is an issue of Barack Obama's sincerity, but rather whether the President, as Westin suggests, evinces "a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything" or simply finds truth distasteful.

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