You remember Obama’s solemn pledge.
No, not the one about televising the health care debates on C-SPAN. The one about how, if you like your health insurance, you would get to keep it under the Democrats’ health care reforms.
Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics points out an admission embedded in one of Obama’s answers to questions following his recent address to House Republicans. Obama’s statement received little notice at the time, but it seems significant for a number of reasons [emphasis mine]:
If you look at the package that we’ve presented — and there’s some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating, we were in the process of eliminating. For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.
This paragraph highlights some of the most disagreeable, manipulative, and duplicitous aspects of Obama’s personality: his refusal to admit that he was mistaken and/or lying, his failure to take any responsibility or offer leadership, and the sophistry he uses to conceal these facts.
Obams’s erroneous (or duplicitous?) assertion about Americans being able to keep their health insurance was not only made repeatedly, it was actually the centerpiece of his argument to the people about what health care reform would do and mean for them. And it was stated not once, but almost every time he spoke on the issue of his plans for health care reform.
Many have remarked that Obama stood back from offering guidance to Congress on the details of the bills, and yet he described his own plan and made promises about it as though the two would be in sync. There has been much speculation about why he chose to do it this way, but I believe that one very important reason was that he wanted to retain plausible deniability when the provisions in the final bill violated his promises.
But Obama must not have had much objection to the breaking of his promises in these bills. If he had wanted to make sure his promises were kept, Obama could (and should) have provided far more leadership, giving Congress details to describe the bill he would have considered optimal. What’s more, he could also have threatened to veto any health care reform bill in which Congress put anything that would undermine people’s ability to continue subscribing to their present private health insurance plans.
We know that he did not provide that kind of guidance. His failure to do so was an abdication of leadership, if nothing else. But don’t sit on a hot stove until he admits it.
Now that time has passed and the American people have learned more about the bills and the effects they would have been likely to have had on their private health insurance, Obama has been forced to admit that his promises weren’t kept. But he is not forced to admit that any of it is his fault.
However, in his remarks quoted above, Obama goes a step further in abdication of responsibility. In characteristic fashion, he manages to absolve himself. But note his language; even the Democrats in Congress (who, after all, designed the bills and voted for them) are not to blame, although he simultaneously seems to admit that something went wrong.
But that “something” had no human locus of action; it just happened. It seems that provisions in bills have minds, motivations, and behaviors of their own. They are autonomous little gremlins that creep into bills of their own volition.
Obama indicates this twice: first characterizing them as animistic “stray cats and dogs” that “got in there” somehow against the will of Obama and his fellow Democrats, who are now bent on eliminating them (perhaps by rounding them up and placing them in the pound?). Secondly, there’s this sentence, “I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.” Note the two careful qualifiers: “I think” and “might have,” as well as the reiteration of the metaphor suggesting that the provisions had no human agents we can identify, but somehow acted with autonomous power, catting around and stealthily getting into places they didn’t belong.
This language is easy to miss unless you’re looking for it and studying it. But for many people who hear them, Obama’s words exert exactly the subtly exculpatory effect he intends. This is one of the reasons Obama retains a surprising amount of support from the public, despite all the broken promises and weasel wrigglings.
Weasel—that’s another animal metaphor, isn’t it? And to complete the image, here we have a few of those stray cat and dog provisions, rounded up and stuck in captivity. Will they manage to sneak out again to wreak their damage? They look so harmless right now.
And then there’s this: