Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Self-Conceit Becoming Self-Parody

It is not enough for President Obama to put forward a series of utterly false statements on behalf of his effort to engineer the wholesale reinvention of American health care. No, he has to position himself as the great truth teller in the process. His critics are “simply dishonest,” Obama said during his health-care town-hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Saturday.

In his New York Times op-ed, Obama decries the “wild misrepresentations” of his detractors. The president is the Child of Light pitted against the Forces of Darkness. Here’s the thing, though: Obama, in possession of the largest megaphone in the world, is himself being simply dishonest and employing wild misrepresentations of the facts. By now the list is well known and seemingly grows by the week, to the point that it is getting difficult to track the assortment of false claims. But let’s try:

Obama promised his health-care overhaul would decrease costs; the CBO has shown how the various plans he has embraced would dramatically increase costs. Obama says that, under the plans he has blessed, everyone can keep their health-care plan; the CBO has shown us why that claim is untrue. Obama says preventive care saves money; once again, courtesy of the CBO, we know that assertion is false. The president says the AARP has endorsed ObamaCare; the AARP put out a statement to the effect that what Obama had said was “inaccurate” and that the White House had to issue a retraction. Obama claimed that after a meeting with representatives of insurance companies, drug companies, and hospitals, they committed to him that they would reduce costs by 1.5 percent per year; people who attended the meeting said that such a claim was untrue, which forced the White House to release a statement that the president “misspoke”—before it retracted its retraction, doing yet more damage to the truth.

Obama portrays his critics as tools of special interests—yet he has assembled as powerful a group of special interests on his behalf as you can imagine (the coalition that is supporting the White House’s health-care ad campaign includes the American Medical Association; Families USA; the Federation of American Hospitals; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA; and the Service Employees International Union).

In his Times op-ed, Obama—who promised to lead America in a civil and high-minded debate, one in which he would address respectfully those who have differences with him—also attacks the motivations of his critics, saying that “the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gains.” And then he informs us that this is a “complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.”

I agree, and like many other Americans, I wish the president would engage in such a debate. But he has chosen another path, one built largely on deception, and he is paying a very high political price for it. ObamaCare is being undone by a series of stubborn facts—facts the president can deny but cannot refute. The Congressional Budget Office, in an act of admirable courage and honesty, has ripped huge, gaping holes into the administration’s health-care hull. Yet Mr. Obama, rather than admitting the truth, is doubling down on his misinformation campaign. And in the process, he must cast himself in the role of the one honest man whom Diogenes went in search of. President Obama’s self-conceit is now edging toward self-parody.