Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The President Doth Protest to Much

When a lady named Doris asked President Obama if he really thought it wise to add more taxes for health care onto the backs of people who were, as she bluntly described, “overtaxed,” our most eloquent  President since FDR and JFK combined venturing into the land of jabberwocky. “…I'm going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have," Then he got about the hard work: a 17 minute, 2500 word response, summarized here by the generally supportive Washington Post (with my annotations):

Even by President Obama's loquacious standards, an answer he gave here on health care Friday was a doozy

…Obama started out feisty…He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer - more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, "F-Map"). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as "FICA").

Always fond of lists, Obama ticked off his approach to health care -- twice. "Number one is that we are the only -- we have been, up until last week, the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance," he said. (is it my imagination or does this number increase by 10 million every month?)

A few minutes later he got to the next point, which seemed awfully similar to the first. "Number two, you don't know who might end up being in that situation," he said, then carried on explaining further still.

"Point number three is that the way insurance companies have been operating, even if you've got health insurance you don't always know what you got, because what has been increasingly the practice is that if you're not lucky enough to work for a big company (and fewer and fewer of us are these days) that is a big pool, that essentially is almost a self-insurer,  (not essentially, they are self insured; “insurance companies” serve only as administrators: processing and paying claims per the employer’s plan and accounting for expenditures) then what's happening is, is you're going out on the marketplace, you may be buying insurance, you think you're covered, but then when you get sick they decide to drop the insurance right when you need it," Obama continued, winding on with the answer.

Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned. (politely stifled)

But Obama wasn't finished. He had a "final point," before starting again with another list -- of three points.

"What we said is, number one, we'll have the basic principle that everybody gets coverage," he said, before launching into the next two points, for a grand total of seven.

His wandering approach might not matter if Obama weren't being billed as the chief salesman of the health-care overhaul. Public opinion on the bill remains divided, (although dissatisfaction is the predominant opinion) and Democratic officials are planning to send Obama into the country to persuade wary citizens that it will work for them in the long run.(an odd strategy in politics: selling the policy after the law has been passed)

It was not evident that he changed any minds at Friday's event. The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off. (oh, this is just the initial “wandering” undertaken by the electorate)

Even Obama seemed to recognize that he had gone on too long. He apologized -- in keeping with the spirit of the moment, not once, but twice. "Boy, that was a long answer. I'm sorry," he said, drawing nervous laughter that sounded somewhat like relief as he wrapped up.

But, he said: "I hope I answered your question." (he didn’t)

File this  response under “A dream is the answer to a question you haven’t yet asked.” And in this case, don’t really have a good answer for.


All of which reconfirms my assessment of the “great Won’s” skills and abilities: Peter Principled into a pay-grade way over his head and temperament. Caught without a good answer to a very simple, straight forward question he throws everything in his well-packed knapsack at it, sprinkling in as many buzz-words as possible to show his close personal knowledge of the material that eludes him.  He forces you to follow him through his incomprehensible dream sequence: unfocused, unclear and ultimately unintelligible .

Don’t forget people – performance evaluations are due in November.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit’s link to Charles Krauthammer video mocking the President’s answer as “only 9 times longer than the Gettysburg Address.”