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Obama Misses the Populist Message

Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday makes a key point that the Obami aren’t likely to appreciate:

This is not a revolt of special interests killing the health care bill like with Hillary-care. You have big pharma, you have the insurance companies basically inside the tent, bought into this idea that they’re going to get a big new market in exchange for being highly regulated.

This is not only accurate but also highlights the phoniness of Obama’s newfound populism. The populists — yes, including those “angry” tea party protesters whom Obama pretended to ignore — are arrayed against Obama and his statist, big-government agenda. They aren’t protesting that special interests have blocked health care; they’re mad that an unholy alliance of big business, big labor, and big government has formed with little concern for the interests of seniors (whose Medicare would get slashed) or middle-class voters (who would be taxed on Cadillac plans, forced to buy insurance, etc.). Obama may be donning the lingo of those who elected Scott Brown, but he’s missing the point.

Obama’s own agenda is fundamentally anti-populist. What could be worse for the little guy than to be told to go buy a big, expensive health-care plan from a big insurance company? It’s the sort of thing Democrats would rightly mock Republicans for coming up with, had the GOP the nerve to come up with such a scheme in the first place.

So when Obama now hollers about the “little guy” and expresses outrage over big, powerful forces in Washington, perhaps he should have looked more closely at the bill he was attempting to foist on the American people. A cushy deal for Big Pharma. New customers mandated by the federal government for Big Insurance. A sweetheart deal for Big Labor.

As with so much else that has gone wrong in the past year for Obama, we once again see that he mistakes (or thinks we will mistake) rhetoric for substance. He wants to get on the side of the ordinary voters? Listen to Scott Brown’s message:

Raising taxes, taking over our health care, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country. What I’ve heard again and again on the campaign trail, is that our political leaders have grown aloof from the people, impatient with dissent, and comfortable in the back room making deals.

That’s what has the public riled up — and Obama would do well to listen to what voters are saying rather than simply imitate the tone of the other side’s victory rallies.

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