Commentary Magazine


Topic: Dave Camp

LIVE BLOG: Senator Alexander Wins

If there was a discrete moment that summed up the problem for Obama with this forum it was his exchange with Lamar Alexander, followed by the home runs by Reps. Dave Camp and Paul Ryan on the cost issue. On issues that can be clearly fact-checked and Obama isn’t willing to concede the obvious (his plan requires more expensive plans), the president simply can’t “win” the point. And the public generally gets the idea that he’s playing fast and loose with the facts.

Well, he is.

If there was a discrete moment that summed up the problem for Obama with this forum it was his exchange with Lamar Alexander, followed by the home runs by Reps. Dave Camp and Paul Ryan on the cost issue. On issues that can be clearly fact-checked and Obama isn’t willing to concede the obvious (his plan requires more expensive plans), the president simply can’t “win” the point. And the public generally gets the idea that he’s playing fast and loose with the facts.

Well, he is.

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LIVE BLOG: Some More on Obama’s Performance

John, I think Obama is suffering from three factors. First, the expectations for him, based on a good deal of media puffery, are  that he should dominate these events. When he doesn’t and looks like a beleagured professor or a midlevel executive whose employees are refusing to get on the same page, the disappointment is greater than for a mere mortal politician.

Second, he has the Democrats on his side, and the Republicans have Paul Ryan, Dave Camp, Lamar Alexander, and John Boehner (who is now doing a fine job drilling down on costs, abortion subsidies, and a leaner health-care plan). And it isn’t just me. Republicans are frankly delighted by some of the media reaction. (David Gergen from earlier today on Obama: “He doesn’t have a strong Democratic team behind him.” Wolf Blizter: “It looks like the Republicans certainly showed up ready to play.”)

Third, the event is too long and there are too many popular, substantive points to be raised by the Republicans for this to be the “game changer” Obama needed. Whoever came up with this idea at the White House is no doubt squirming.

John, I think Obama is suffering from three factors. First, the expectations for him, based on a good deal of media puffery, are  that he should dominate these events. When he doesn’t and looks like a beleagured professor or a midlevel executive whose employees are refusing to get on the same page, the disappointment is greater than for a mere mortal politician.

Second, he has the Democrats on his side, and the Republicans have Paul Ryan, Dave Camp, Lamar Alexander, and John Boehner (who is now doing a fine job drilling down on costs, abortion subsidies, and a leaner health-care plan). And it isn’t just me. Republicans are frankly delighted by some of the media reaction. (David Gergen from earlier today on Obama: “He doesn’t have a strong Democratic team behind him.” Wolf Blizter: “It looks like the Republicans certainly showed up ready to play.”)

Third, the event is too long and there are too many popular, substantive points to be raised by the Republicans for this to be the “game changer” Obama needed. Whoever came up with this idea at the White House is no doubt squirming.

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LIVE BLOG: Obama — Not That Impressive a Spokesman

Barack Obama tends to be pretty strong in settings like this. But you can see the chinks in his armor, even in the “summit” setting. He gets prickly from time to time (you could see it in his exchange with Senator Alexander). He tends toward solipsism (his opening statement was about him, about his children, about his youth). And he’s strikingly arrogant, constantly putting himself in the position to deem what is a “legitimate” and what is an “illegitimate” argument. We also saw that same arrogance in his explanation of the uneven time allotted to people for speaking. He justifies it because, we were all delighted to learn, “I’m the president”: Obama decided not to count his speaking time against the time allotted to the Democratic side, which is silly. But we also saw Obama’s arrogance in his insistence that he is right and that Lamar Alexander is wrong about whether ObamaCare would increase premiums. As Jen Rubin and James Capretta demonstrate — and as Representative Dave Camp and Senator Jon Kyl argued during the session — it is Obama who was in error. President Obama is the best spokesman Democrats have. But the truth is that these days he’s not all that impressive.

Barack Obama tends to be pretty strong in settings like this. But you can see the chinks in his armor, even in the “summit” setting. He gets prickly from time to time (you could see it in his exchange with Senator Alexander). He tends toward solipsism (his opening statement was about him, about his children, about his youth). And he’s strikingly arrogant, constantly putting himself in the position to deem what is a “legitimate” and what is an “illegitimate” argument. We also saw that same arrogance in his explanation of the uneven time allotted to people for speaking. He justifies it because, we were all delighted to learn, “I’m the president”: Obama decided not to count his speaking time against the time allotted to the Democratic side, which is silly. But we also saw Obama’s arrogance in his insistence that he is right and that Lamar Alexander is wrong about whether ObamaCare would increase premiums. As Jen Rubin and James Capretta demonstrate — and as Representative Dave Camp and Senator Jon Kyl argued during the session — it is Obama who was in error. President Obama is the best spokesman Democrats have. But the truth is that these days he’s not all that impressive.

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LIVE BLOG: Reps. Dave Camp and Paul Ryan Score a Point

Rep. Dave Camp makes precisely the point I raised with regard to premium costs. He told the president that the CBO anticipates premium costs will go up 10 to 13 percent because the plans will be richer. They will be richer, he says, because of government mandates. Camp argues that it is this approach that Republicans object to.

Rep. Paul Ryan makes the same point: if you federalize and regulate a one-size-fits-all health-care system, it will be more expensive. Ryan asks: “Do we distrust all our governors? Do we want Washington deciding how this works?” This discussion is immensely important and frankly helpful to conservatives.

Rep. Dave Camp makes precisely the point I raised with regard to premium costs. He told the president that the CBO anticipates premium costs will go up 10 to 13 percent because the plans will be richer. They will be richer, he says, because of government mandates. Camp argues that it is this approach that Republicans object to.

Rep. Paul Ryan makes the same point: if you federalize and regulate a one-size-fits-all health-care system, it will be more expensive. Ryan asks: “Do we distrust all our governors? Do we want Washington deciding how this works?” This discussion is immensely important and frankly helpful to conservatives.

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