July 22nd, 2009

Obama: ignorant or arrogant? fool or knave? liar or stupid? And does it really matter anymore?

What we do know is that this man is dangerous, and that if his predecessor George Bush had tried a stunt like this, he would have been widely excoriated.

What am I talking about? You may recall that Investor’s Business Weekly article I wrote about here and here, the one in which the authors interpreted the health care reform bill as prohibiting the writing of new individual private medical insurance policies once the bill is passed. Obama was doing call-ins over the radio and he was asked about the provision in question, which the caller helpfully explained.

Here’s the passage:

CALLER: …from an opinion piece in Investor’s Business Daily[sic], where they’re saying that HR3200 will make individual private medical insurance recalled, and they actually quote from Section 102 of the bill, which is grandfathering the existing policies. Is this true, will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though HR3200 is passed?

OBAMA: You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you’re talking about. Let me just speak for the Obama administration. I have committed myself consistently to a very simple proposition: if you have health insurance, you like it, you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period. And I won’t sign a bill that somehow would make it tougher for people to keep their health insurance.

The problems with Obama’s answer:

(1) He’s making the case against his own rush to pass this bill if he’s admitting he’s unfamiliar with its provisions on such a basic point.

(2) The original IBW article was not obscure. It was discussed at Instapundit, for example, a blog so large and influential that the administration should be monitoring it on a daily basis. Someone should have at least briefed Obama on it, if he didn’t know the answer already.

(3) Note how careful Obama is to not answer the question, which is about writing future policies, not keeping the one you have. He is parsing his words in order to appear to answer the question but never addresses it at all. Even if he didn’t know the answer about the specifics of that provision in the bill, he should have said he would defend the right to keep policies and also the right to get new ones. But he doesn’t, which is highly suspicious.

Of course, it’s possible that the video is strategically truncated, and that Obama addresses the issue of future policies a moment later. But I very much doubt it, since a search revealed nothing of the sort (although I’ve not been able to locate a transcript of the entire episode). And a look at an article about the call-in at Daily Kos (written by the blogger who asked Obama the question, who turns out to be on the Left and not the Right, and is getting hammered by the Kos kids for asking it in the first place), revealed no such extra statement by Obama that had been edited out. Surely, if there was such a thing, it would constitute some sort of defense and would have been mentioned in the post at Kos (I’m not providing a link because I have a policy not to link to Kos; you’ll have to find it yourself if you care to).

(4) This also may be a case of Obama preparing the defense I mentioned here: “Don’t blame me, blame Congress!”

(5) And of course the whole thing is disingenuous anyway, because once the public option is in place it will tend to crowd out private options and in a while these plans will no longer be offered even to those who were grandfathered in. Unless there’s some special provision in the bill protecting them, which there is not.

35 Responses to “Obama: ignorant or arrogant? fool or knave? liar or stupid? And does it really matter anymore?”

  1. dane Says:

    This guy has taken Clinton’s “it depends on the meaning of IS” to a whole new level. This is the ultimate in “plausible deniability”. The pundits say that Obama needs to get in front of the people tonight and say what HE wants in the bill. They are all surprised he did not author the bill himself, but I am not. He would never do something like that because he understands the value of being able to say, “I didn’t do it” or “I tried to keep my promise but congress would not cooperate”.

    The other reason is because he has never DONE anything for himself. He has always made sure he has been in the position of directing other people to do things.” Some of this is because he doesn’t really know how to do much of anything.

  2. Thomass Says:

    I’ve also heard a bit of the ‘powerful forces’ are against his plan stuff. That plays in San Francisco but not sure how well it will do nationally.

    On a side note to this, conservatives [still] need to come up with a snappy rejoinder to the progressive meme that only conservatives are ideological and that big business controls them. Obviously progressives take ideological positions too and are not the paragons of pure reason they see themselves as. Luckily, the general population knows this unconsciously… so Obama’s nonsense will fall flat. Still, it would be nice to have a come back.

  3. Obamashuga Nuts Says:

    Liberals are beside themselves. They seriously can’t figure out why Obama sides with his party’s left.
    Clive Crook-The Atlantic: Obama’s Sucide March

  4. betsybounds Says:

    I just heard on Fox that CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf attended a “meeting” at the White House to discuss the health care, uh, proposal. The “meeting” apparently included a session in the Oval Office with Obama. This kind of CBO-White House contact is very unusual, and has in past administrations been avoided, even refused, by previous CBO directors. These guys are good at the fine art of “persuasion.” I wonder how soon the CBO will change its recent unfavorable scoring of the bill.

    Lord, what have we done? And–even more pressing–what do we do now?

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    The most important part of this thread is your title.

    Your title incapsulates the duality of most of the arguments in a meta form, but you probably didn’t realize it.

    The left prols have been taught to believe that extenuating circumstances change the nature of the outcome (their leaders know better and to them this becomes a tool).

    The right, tends not to respond to the concept that a reason or such changes the nature of the outcome, with very few exceptions. Its these very few that others exploit to expand the concept to its absurd and broken form, above.

    In this way, equivalences can be made separate by adding a false qualification. Morals becaome situational, and on and on.

    To the left, that mini list means something. That is if he is purposefully wrecking the place, then that’s bad. But if he is accidentally wrecking the place, then its excusable? This embodies John Cleese’s how to really annoy people.

    Once mentally accepted the game switches to which dirty piece of underwear will be accepted as a mitigating or transformative to the point. find it, you then can push the point and it can be exactly the same point as another, but they wont get it. sometimes we see this and think its from a, when I do it its ok, when you do it its not mentality, but while that may be true for some, its not what I pick up from the many.

    So, once the group has this kind of concept taken in as a premise concept to apply, you can almost get the majority to do anything you want if you can find the key. And in the case of Obama, the reverse is true, you can add so many that it dilutes the force that would be arrayed against him from acting in one way.

    So in the case of Obama, they came up with lots of reasons, we come up with them, and we make some form of excuse and they go around, and you have 10 groups pulling in different directions and fighting each other.

    In the case of abortion, you bury eugenics, and you create a new reason that IS socially acceptable, then expand within that frame work, but don’t discuss it. So people don’t know the distribution of centers. Or they think that their race aborts too, so its fair. but they don’t do the math, and they certainly don’t see where we are exporting it to and look at it in neutral terms.

    They are incapable of removing the bull destroying the china shop as long as they think the bull doesn’t really want to break things.

    This delusion is all over, it goes so far as to let women jump into polar bear cages, and other things where they believe that this mechanism works backwards and their good intentions will protect them like it protects the bull in the china shop.

  6. Thomass Says:

    Obamashuga Nuts Says:

    “Liberals are beside themselves. They seriously can’t figure out why Obama sides with his party’s left.
    Clive Crook-The Atlantic: Obama’s Sucide March”

    No, moderate democrats are since he siding with liberals / the far left. At least that is what your linked article says.

    The old difference between a ‘liberal’ and a leftist is gone. The 60s New Left are leftists… and call themselves liberals. The old liberals are mostly neocons… or considered moderates today.

  7. Occam's Beard Says:

    Note how Obama’s answer is playing.

    He’s asked about major legislation that he is pushing, and that has massive impact both on the economy and society at large, and his response to one of its provisions is, “Gee, I dunno.”

    Imagine if George Bush had said that about any legislation (regardless of how minor) – the MSM and everyone to the left of Genghis Khan would have been screaming what an idiot he was.

    Yet Obama gets a skip. He doesn’t know? He’s pushing it – it’s his proposal!

  8. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    As to what kind of creature Obama is, and what his motives, agenda, and ultimate objectives might be, I say, look at the left hand, not the right, look at what he does, not says, look at the concrete, objective evidence.

    I have posted here before that one of Obama’s main tactics is the “Blitzkrieg”–to press forward on so many different fronts at the same time that it will deliberately overload our capacity to comprehend what is going on, to identify what is important and what is not, and, more importantly, to delay and cripple our ability to counter his actions.

    As another piece of evidence, I offer the news that the House has reported out of committee the “Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009,” the usual Orwellian titled bill mandating a federal takeover of the student loan program i.e. a year after this bill passes banks will no longer be able to offer student loans guaranteed by the government, only the government will make such student loans, and will set such interest rates, terms and conditions on them as it sees fit; it will also be able to set standards for universities whose students accept such loans, such as the percentage of minority graduates that is acceptable to the government.

    As part of this takeover there will be an incentive to do “voluntary” “community service” for the government and/or government approved “public service organizations–no religious need apply–for a period of 10 years, and, in return, have all your student loans forgiven.

    Can anyone say “owned by the government,” “indentured servant” or “Hitler Youth?”

  9. grackle Says:

    … women jump into polar bear cages …

    Last night I viewed episode 3 of the Grizzly Man Diaries on Animal Planet. I found it fascinating.


    We probably all project thoughts and motives into animals but it’s usually our mostly harmless pets. When it’s done with bears and wolves it gets a bit dangerous. Timothy Treadwell paid for his projections with his life and the life of his companion, Amie Huguenard.

    Sometimes we take into ourselves what we think we see in animals. Treadwell did that, too. “I won’t let them hurt you,” he said to his foxes when the wolves were prowling near in the night. He became a father fox protecting his cubs.

    Sometimes we erect a hero from a mere man. We project into him all of our goodness, all that we think is the best of ourselves. That is what has happened with all those folks that we want to grab and shake and ask, “Couldn’t you see? And why can’t you see now? Who took your eyes? Who stole your mind? What happened to your soul?

    Althouse and McArdle and all like them jumped into the bear cage.

    And the bear ate them.

  10. ElMondoHummus Says:

    “Obama: ignorant or arrogant?”

    That’s a false dichotomy, ma’am.


  11. Darrell Says:

    The “you’re going to destroy my presidency” quote is quite telling, reminds me of a 14 year old telling their parents “its all your fault that I (fill in the blank)
    It wont ever be his fault…..

  12. huxley Says:

    Why choose? Fool and knave. Liar and stupid.

    What matters, as a weapon in stopping Obama, is understanding how he ticks.

    We’re still not there. By 2012 I think we’ll have a good idea, but I’d like to beat that date.

  13. Old Dad Says:

    IMO, Presidents lie. Pres. Obama is a not very talented liar. Regardless, only fools take such an obvious and indiscrete liar at his word.

    Said another way. “I will veto” whatever. Plain talk–“I will wear a condom.” Either way, we’re screwed.

    The prudent course is to respond to the most immediate threat–Congress.

    Kill it before it grows.

  14. huxley Says:

    The “you’re going to destroy my presidency” quote is quite telling…

    It’s his dream machine. Healthcare is the Big One for Obama. It’s his ticket to the mental Mount Rushmore of Presidents, his bragging rights for the rest of the century.

    It’s also a statement of realpolitik. If Obama can be stopped here, it’s the end of the Great Obama and he’s just a mulatto with big ears standing behind a curtain who has been playing the race card and machine politics all along.

  15. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    No, it doesn’t matter. Obama doesn’t care what wee little people think. And we have 1200+ days of this fine person in the White House.

  16. nyomythus Says:

    arrogant, knave, liar.

  17. Baklava Says:

    Ign∅rant or Arr∅gant?

    ∅bama is B∅TH

    He is both.

    He does not respect the fact that there are alternative solutions or ideas.

    He does not grant the choice isn’t his plan vs. ‘inaction’.

    Watching his press conference is like watching an idiot and liar who should know that we know the gig is up.

    He should resign or improve himself. Since he won’t improve himself, Obama should resign…

    🙂 Yes, Quit !

  18. huxley Says:

    nyomythus: Why leave out fool and stupid?

    His negotiating style is based on the ridiculous “I’ll pretend to listen to all sides, everyone will feel good, and then I’ll get my way” which works well in academia and progressive Dem circles, but nowhere else.

    Obama’s knowledge of history and economics is demonstrably sophomoric.

    Plus Obama is leaving the execution of his grand plans entirely to Dem backroom hacks like Pelosi and Reid, and Obama doesn’t even bother to acquaint himself to the specifics of their machinations, as neo’s post above shows.

  19. Baklava Says:


    He just went with the Status Quo argument AGAIN.

  20. Baklava Says:

    Live blogging ∅ :

    We are just a cynical bunch Obama says…

    We are only ‘skeptical’…

    “The cost of doing nothing” – should we count that phrase’s use?

    Obama, “I’m rushed because I get letters every day from families”….


    Obama, “The status quo is working for me” – referring to people opposing his plan

    Obama, “I won’t sign a bill that adds to our deficit”

  21. Baklava Says:

    Live blogging ∅ :

    Chuck Todd, “Can you explain how you are going to expand coverage?” “20 million more?, 10 million more?”

    Obama, “I want to cover everybody”

  22. Baklava Says:


    Christy asked a question about withholding information about who has come to the White House to meet about Health Care.


    Obama, “You guys have been in there taking pictures during their visits”

  23. Baklava Says:

    Live bloggin ∅ :

    Steve: Can you guarantee that a doctor will not deny coverage. WIll you and the Congress abide by the same benefits

    Obama, “The same thing that Congress enjoys”

  24. Baklava Says:

    Maybe I misunderstood that quote. I’ll have to look at the transcript

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava: largely the same thing that Congress enjoys. Note the qualifier.

  26. Vieux Charles Says:

    I was going to go see my doctor because my neck’s been a bit stiff, but now I’m afraid that instead of fixing that my doctor will try and take my tonsils out.

    No really, Obama just said it.

    As for your question neo, is Obama “ignorant or arrogant? fool or knave? liar or stupid?”

    After watching fourth prime time press report I’d have to say – YES.

  27. ELC Says:

    Obama is amazing, actually. He’s just like Lincoln was, except completely different. Lincoln was extremely careful to make sure that he said what he meant and meant what he said. (His famous letter to Horace Greeley is probably the finest example of that kind of precision; it should, perhaps, be mentioned that Lincoln and Greeley had been friends already for years.) Obama, on the other hand, seems to take great care to avoid saying what he means and to mean other than what he says.

    Obama seems to engage in a great deal of cogitation before expressing himself (off-prompter); too bad the effort seems to be to keep himself from saying what he’s actually thinking. What kind of person does that? And how long can he keep it up consistently? And what are the consequences to his psyche of doing so?

    P.S. I am not watching the press conference, so I am not basing my comments on it.

  28. Don B Says:

    I vote for “Ignorant” (read: dumb like a fox!) and “Arrogant”, “Knave”, and (it goes without saying) “Liar”.

  29. Don B Says:

    To ELC (and all readers) — “What kind of person does that?” — the [sly] fox!

  30. Perfected democrat Says:

    I watched a good part of the press conference. Obungler says we’re going to save significant money because in the new system doctors will not be ordering redundunt tests that they do now because they aren’t communicating with one another; Generic medicines will be used in lieu of brand names, for further savings… Finally, then he told a tale about inheriting GWB’s 10 trillion dollar deficit, and how the dimocrats have cut that to 7.2 trillion (if my short term memory serves me), and he says this all with a straight face, and the media don’t get up and walk out on the traitor. We are in deep trouble…

  31. Artfldgr Says:

    A good lawyer can argue (once the state controls things) that it violates equal protection if some get a different plan. then again, maybe not

  32. Baklava Says:

    Neo wrote, “Baklava: largely the same thing that Congress enjoys. Note the qualifier.


    Two questions. One, can you guarantee that this legislation will lock in and say the government will never deny any services; that that’s going to be decided by the doctor and the patient, and the government will not deny any coverage? And secondarily, can you, as a symbolic gesture, say that you and the Congress will abide by the same benefits in that public option?

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, number one, not only the public option but the insurance regulation that we want to put in place will largely match up with what members of Congress are getting through the federal employee plan. That’s a good example of what we’re trying to build for the American people — the same thing that Congress enjoys, which is they go — there is a marketplace of different plans that they can access, depending on what’s best for their families.

    That was very slick. I didn’t hear the word largely. It was because the phrase I quoted of the president stood on it’s own but it was in a sentence with the qualifier earlier.

    Got to give it to him. He’s slick. Would Ted Kennedy be treated by Obama’s plan as he was ??

  33. huxley Says:

    It was the 40th anniversary of Chappaquidick the other day. In memory perhaps we should name the new health plan after Mary Jo Kopechne.

    Don’t get sick; don’t get trapped in sinking cars driven by Democrats!

  34. strcpy Says:

    “That was very slick. I didn’t hear the word largely. It was because the phrase I quoted of the president stood on it’s own but it was in a sentence with the qualifier earlier.”

    You will also note that he says “which is they go — there is a marketplace of different plans that they can access, depending on what’s best for their families. ” which is a VERY different answer than we get the same coverage Congress does.

    That is Obama is saying we will have largely the same amount of choices – we all can eat at a buffet – but the contents may not be the same. Congress gets Filet Mignon and we get Chuck-eye but hey we can all choose small, medium, or large!

    You can be sure that Obama understood the difference there and until/unless he gets called on it he will simply make fun of the messenger without actually addressing the question.

  35. Artfldgr Says:

    Congress gets Filet Mignon and we get Chuck-eye but hey we can all choose small, medium, or large!

    by george i think they are starting to get it. thats what it means to change to a two class society. the rulers, and the serfs…

    Under Marxism the middle class will be gradually reduced to the economic level of existing poverty:

    “You must, therefore, confess that by “individual” you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible.” Karl Marx

    “We aspire to be a classless society – a middle-class country in which the door of opportunity are open to all.” Rham Emmanuel

    “I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them…My own contribution was

    1. to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production;

    2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat;

    3. that this dictatorship itself constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” Karl Marx 1852

    “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” Thomas Jefferson

    “A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers”. F. A. Hayek

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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