The latest parlor game in Washington D.C. is whether or not President Obama knowingly misled us when he repeatedly assured the American people that, in his words, “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
By now we all know that claim was completely false–and thanks to a report by NBC News, we know the Obama administration knew it was false years ago. (So did Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.) But what about the president? Did he know what he was saying was untrue?
I certainly think so. For one thing, it’s nearly impossible to believe that the president–who is hardly a stupid or ignorant man–was clueless about this despite the fact that many people in the administration knew years in advance that a large percentage of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans. Red flags had to have gone up, time and again, at least until the message was sent from on high: Don’t rock the boat and don’t raise objections.
Remember, what we’re talking about isn’t a minor feature of an obscure policy. It’s a central component of Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. And as the Wall Street Journal points out in this editorial, the Affordable Care Act is “dismantling the individual insurance market, as its architects intended from the start … this month’s mass cancellation wave has been the President’s political goal since 2008. Liberals believe they must destroy the market in order to save it.”
Beyond that, it’s helpful to bear in mind the characteristics of the Obama White House. This is the group that for weeks knowingly misled the public on the events surrounding the lethal attacks on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. That claimed that the Affordable Care Act was both a tax and not a tax, depending on what the circumstances required. That hatched the sequestration idea, then denied it, and then blamed Republicans for it. That has perfected the art of stonewalling. That is lawless. And that ran a campaign in 2012 that was unusually vicious and dishonest, up to and including blaming Mitt Romney for the cancer death of a steelworker’s wife.
We have as president a man who routinely slanders his political opponents, distorting what they believe, even as he bemoans the lack of civility in public discourse. He constantly makes assertions that are obviously untrue. And it doesn’t matter to him. He keeps doing it because, at least until now, the media has given him something approaching a free pass.
I have no idea if Mr. Obama was born mendacious or whether he learned the habit somewhere along the way. What I do know is that Barack Obama is thoroughly post-modern. Words and facts have no objective standing with him; they are socially constructed, unmoored, infinitely malleable, a way to create his own reality and advance his own self-interest.
Mr. Obama clearly believes that because his agenda is right and noble and his opponents are benighted and evil, he has license to say pretty much whatever he wants pretty much whenever he wants. After all, anything that advances his agenda while rebuffing the (choose your descriptor) nihilistic, anarchistic, heartless, ruthless, Taliban-like Republicans is allowable. Even encouraged. It’s the Chicago Way.
Mr. Obama, then, has a deeply defective public character. He simply makes things up as he goes along. He invents his own reality. And the fact that he is inflicting significant and durable harm to our political culture, and to America itself, seems to bother him not one bit.
There is something quite disturbing about this president’s capacity to mislead people with such ease and with such relish. He’s not a man who can be trusted with power.