A moment of epiphany from Morning Joe today, and from an unlikely source. Chris Matthews, who’s known for feeling thrills rather than chills about Barack Obama, acknowledged today what has become the consensus view everywhere but on certain segments of his own network (via Newsbusters):
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Let me ask you losers, political losers of the year?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Terrible year for the president. I mean, it’s terrible, this…
SCARBOROUGH: Can you go back a year? One year ago, the president was getting ready for his second inauguration. So much hope. This has been a terrible year.
MATTHEWS: There’s another piece of it which you’re subtly getting at. It’s not just that it’s a bad year in terms of the rollout. There’s an erosion in interest. It feels like a very long presidency now. It feels like the seventh or eighth year of a presidency. It doesn’t feel like the fifth. There wasn’t that rejuvenation that comes with re-election. There wasn’t any, certainly he was never going to get a honeymoon from the other side, but there was no sense of wow. And I think that’s hurt him a lot.
Well, no, it’s not just the rollout, if that’s defined as a faulty website and some unintended consequences of a badly-written law. That would be enough, of course, to dent the momentum of any President, but it’s not the whole story — by a long shot. The biggest problem for Obama and his administration is the exposure of its serially dishonest nature — from the IRS scandal, to the Benghazi coverup, and especially on NSA surveillance and ObamaCare. In just the last 24 hours, we’ve found out that James Clapper and the White House lied about the number of attacks the 215 surveillance has prevented (claim: 50, reality: zero), that HHS lied about not being told to stop the rollout of the Healthcare.gov website because of profound security concerns, and that everyone lied about having plenty of time to get enrolled for insurance after getting “unexpectedly” kicked out of the plans they already had. That’s quite a trifecta.
Charles Krauthammer hits the nail on the head (if you’ll pardon the pun) in this context by naming the collapse of the “if you like your plan you can keep your plan” lie the Story of the Year:
That was a fraud from the very beginning. The law was designed to throw people off their private plans and into government-run exchanges where they would be made to overpay — forced to purchase government-mandated services they don’t need — as a way to subsidize others. (That’s how you get to the ostensible free lunch.)
It wasn’t until the first cancellation notices went out in late 2013 that the deception began to be understood. And felt. Six million Americans with private insurance have just lost it. And that’s just the beginning. By the Department of Health and Human Services’ own estimates, about 75 million Americans would have plans that their employers would have the right to cancel. And millions of middle-class workers who will migrate to the exchanges and don’t qualify for government subsidies will see their premiums, deductibles and co-pays go up.
It gets worse. The dislocation extends to losing one’s doctor and drug coverage, as insurance companies narrow availability to compensate for the huge costs imposed on them by the extended coverage and “free” services the new law mandates.
It’s the exposure of that fraud, not the rollout or even ObamaCare by itself, that makes Obama the loser of the year. It’s why no one’s looking forward to three more years of dealing with an administration whose officials lie to Congress and to Americans and suffer no consequences for those lies.