I was all set to lay into him for this, the thousandth repetition of the left’s unified field theory that all their problems boil down to salesmanship, but now that the House caucus has decided to bring back Madam Speaker for Republican Victory Tour 2012, his lame talking point seems less tin-eared by comparison. Plus, let’s face it, there’s not much left to say: We all know he’s not going to admit the obvious, that pursuing ObamaCare at a time of economic terror wasn’t the smart thing to do short-term, so his menu of excuses is pretty much limited to this and the idea that the bitter-clingers simply aren’t thinking clearly these days about their political choices.
How a guy who was touted during the campaign as one of the great orators in American history can now be complaining about communications problems, I simply don’t know. But I’ll give him this much: He might have done a little better pitching ObamaCare if he hadn’t outright lied about its key provisions. Mickey Kaus:
Is it surprising that Americans who are getting on toward the end of their lives—and who don’t need Obama’s health insurance “exchanges” because they’re already covered by Medicare—failed to support Obama’s plan? Obama himself gave, as an example of socially wasteful spending, the hip replacement his grandmother got after she was told she had terminal cancer. Perhaps seniors thought hard about Obama’s example and said, “Hmm. Our idea of health care reform isn’t having some ‘independent’ board decide we aren’t worth a hip replacement.”
Was it really necessary for Obama to alienate seniors—making it seem as if health insurance for the poor was going to be financed out of their hides, or at least their hips? What if instead of claiming that extending health care to everyone was (implausibly) part of deficit reduction, Obama claimed that extending health care to everyone was … extending health care to eveyone? Pay for it with spending cuts and tax increases, game the CBO estimates all you want—but leave the curve-bending and the “independent” treatment-nixing panels for later, if ever, It seems likely that at least a chunk of that 59 percent might have been won over. Even if they weren’t, a chunk of the 59 percent might not have been angry enough to go to the polls.
An “it’ll cost more but it’s worth it” pitch would have been an interesting exercise in honesty, but since no one believed his curve-bending rhetoric, isn’t that the premise under which voters were operating anyway? That the program’s going to vastly exceed its cost projections notwithstanding Obama’s assurances to the contrary but that, conceivably, it might be worth it? My hunch is that even if The One had sold it as Kaus suggested, seniors still would have assumed that the program would end up way over budget and that the shortfall would be made up via rationing or cuts to Medicare. That’s the problem with government health care writ large — after watching Medicare costs balloon over the last 45 years, seniors above all simply aren’t going to buy any budgetary guarantees made to them by the feds. Promise tax increases, promise offsetting spending cuts, and the beast will still outgrow it. The die was cast, I think, the moment they passed the bill. No messaging, not even after a hundred speeches from Pericles here, could have saved them.