Last summer, a brief stir was caused when a book published by New York Times reporter Janny Scott uncovered an uncomfortable fact about President Obama: He had been lying about his mother’s health insurance problems. During the 2008 campaign and throughout the subsequent debate over his signature health care legislation, the president used his mother’s experience as a cancer patient fighting to get coverage to pay for treatment for what her insurer said was a pre-existing condition as an emotional argument to sway skeptics. But as Scott discovered during the course of writing her biography of Anne Dunham, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, it turned out that her correspondence showed that “the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.”
At the time the White House chose not to dispute Ms. Scott’s findings. But apparently the Obama campaign thinks the public’s memory is mighty short. As Glenn Kessler writes today in the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, the president’s much ballyhooed campaign biography film “The Road We’ve Traveled,” narrated by Tom Hanks repeats the same line that Scott debunked. Though the film’s script tries to avoid repeating the president’s false claims from 2008, as Kessler says, any reasonable person would infer from the movie that the president’s mother died because her insurance was denied.
As Kessler notes, the filmmakers were aware of the fact that the president had been caught in a lie about his mother’s insurance but were determined to get this story into the film without exactly repeating his mendacious statement:
We think there are few viewers of this film who would watch this sequence and conclude that Dunham was involved in anything but a fight over health-insurance coverage. … The filmmakers must have known they had a problem with this story or else they would have recounted it as Obama had done in the 2008 campaign, using phrases such as “pre-existing conditions,” “health insurance,” and “treatment.”
Instead, they arranged the quotes and images to leave a misleading impression of what really happened.
President Obama’s willingness to falsify the facts about a personal tragedy in order to make a political point speaks volumes about not only his cynicism but also his character. It’s important to remember that this is no misunderstanding but rather a bald-faced lie. Here’s what Obama said during one of his debates with Republican opponent John McCain:
For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.
It is true that Ms. Dunham did have a separate dispute about disability insurance but this had nothing to do with pre-existing conditions. Nor did it affect her fight for her life. And given that her son acted as her attorney, there’s no doubt he was not ignorant of the truth of the matter.
President Obama never apologized for his original lie. He just assumed, rightly it turns out, that even though this whopper was uncovered by the New York Times, neither that paper nor the rest of the liberal mainstream media would pursue the matter further as they almost certainly would (and should have) had his Republican predecessor been found out in a similar matter. Thus encouraged, he has now repeated the falsehood, albeit artfully recast in an attempt to avoid blame.
Having won election and then rammed his ObamaCare bill through Congress in part on the strength of this false argument, he has doubled down on it with the lie now coming from the lips of American’s favorite everyman, actor Tom Hanks as well as in edited clips of interviews with the president and his wife. Kessler gives the performance three out of a possible four Pinocchios on his scale of accuracy. This seems a bit generous but the point is that the story proves that Obama is willing to do and/or say anything, even lying about the death of his mother, in order to gain an advantage. That he thinks repeating the lie will help him get re-elected says a lot about what he thinks of the intelligence of the American people and the integrity of the press that failed to vet him the first time around.