November 1st, 2013

Obamacare: imagology meets reality?

It may well be that what’s been going on lately with Obamacare is that imagology has met reality.

Before the rollout, everything was theoretical. Even now, almost everything is a prediction and projection about what we think will happen.

But there have been a couple of realities. One is the website, even worse than its most vehement naysayers had predicted, and frustrating users in a very personal way. That has a direct effect on the credibility of those who promoted, passed, and designed Obamacare.

Another reality is the people who already perceive themselves as having been hurt by the law. Of course, a certain portion of them—and we have no idea how big or small this group will ultimately be—may be mistaken and may find in time that they actually qualify for better (or worse) insurance policies and more (or fewer) subsidies than they think they do at the moment. But they are very, very real, and they are speaking up and telling their stories.

The link at the beginning of this piece was to an article containing a relevant quotation from the book Immortality by Czech author Milan Kundera. It bears repeating:

…[C]ommunists used to believe that in the course of capitalist development the proletariat would gradually grow poorer and poorer, but when it finally became clear that all over Europe workers were driving to work in their own cars, [the communists] felt like shouting that reality was deceiving them. Reality was stronger than ideology. And it is in this sense that imagology surpassed it: imagology is stranger than reality, which has anyway long ceased to be what it was for my grandmother, who lived in a Moravian village and still knew everything through her own experience: how bread is baked, how a house is built, how a pig is slaughtered and the meat smoked, what quilts are made of, what the priest and the schoolteacher think about the world; she met the whole village every day and knew how many murders were committed in the country over the last ten years; she had, so to speak, personal control over reality, and nobody could fool her by maintaining that Moravian agriculture was thriving when people at home had nothing to eat. My Paris neighbor spends his time an an office, where he sits for eight hours facing an office colleague, then he sits in his car and drives home, turns on the TV, and when the announcer informs him that in the latest public opinion poll the majority of Frenchmen voted their country the safest in Europe (I recently read such a report), he is overjoyed and opens a bottle of champagne without ever learning that three thefts and two murders were committed on his street that very day.

…[S]ince for contemporary man reality is a continent visited less and less often and, besides, justifiably disliked, the findings of polls have become a kind of higher reality, or to put it differently: they have become the truth. Public opinion polls are a parliament in permanent session, whose function it is to create truth, the most democratic truth that has ever existed. Because it will never be at variance with the parliament of truth, the power of imagologues will always live in truth, and although I know that everything human is mortal, I cannot imagine anything that would break its power.

[ADDENDUM: Andy at Ace's discusses some might fine imagology from the Atlantic.]

35 Responses to “Obamacare: imagology meets reality?”

  1. M J R Says:


    I’ve sent this around to a few friends who aren’t enlightened enough [tongue firmly in cheek] to read neo regularly, but who will appreciate it.

    It’s often refreshing to have something laid out so plainly, without reference to current events. That way, the universal applicability of the idea more readily shines through.

  2. buddha hat Says:

    What scares me most about the whole Obamacare debacle is how few commenters on the left are willing to call “If you like your healthcare you can keep your healthcare…” a LIE.

    They must believe that “If you like your healthcare you can keep your healthcare” is the same thing as saying, “If we like your healthcare you can keep your healthcare.”

    (Oh those pesky pronouns.)

    An alternate explanation – BHO actually believed what he was saying.

    Happy Halloween.

  3. T Says:

    . . . and yet, IMO, the truth, like gravity always wins in the end.

  4. Oldflyer Says:

    Reality is creeping into the national consciousness. Summarizing T, truth like gravity cannot be ignored, and when “stuff” starts to affect you, the ones you care about, and others in near proximity truth and reality are manifest. I don’t think we have seen anything yet. When the employer mandate actually kicks in, when the draconian cuts to Medicare take effect, when the tax bill for the swelling Medicaid rolls come due; then there will be hell to pay. Those events are predictable; others, such as the effect this travesty will have on the availability of Doctors and hospitals are not so predictable but, the indicators tell us not to be overly optimistic.

    When this Titanic like boondoggle puts its over-sized stern in the air, and starts its fatal slide, the life boats are going to be filled with politicians, everyone else can join in a chorus of “Nearer my God to Thee”, or whatever, if anything, they believe in.

  5. mezzrow Says:

    Reality will not be postponed forever. It will arrive in its own time, and in its own manner.

    re: buddha hat’s comment

    Daffy Duck: Let’sth run through that again.
    Bugs Bunny: Okay.
    [in a flat tone]
    Bugs Bunny: Wouldja like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?
    Daffy Duck: [flat tone] Shoot him now, shoot him now.
    Bugs Bunny: [flat tone] You keep outta this. He doesn’t hafta shoot you now.
    Daffy Duck: [with sudden passion] Ha! That’s it! Hold it right there!
    [to audience]
    Daffy Duck: Pronoun trouble.
    [to Bugs]
    Daffy Duck: It’s not: “He doesn’t have to shoot *you* now.” It’s: “He doesn’t have to shoot *me* now.” Well, I say he does have to shoot me now!
    [to Elmer]
    Daffy Duck: So shoot me now!
    [Elmer shoots him]

    Under Obamacare, we are but little black ducks with pronoun trouble. They’re just waiting for us to exclaim “shoot me now! shoot me now!”

  6. M J R Says:

    buddha hat, 5:35 pm — “An alternate explanation – BHO actually believed what he was saying.”

    I think he really believed it. I think he really believed all the bulldoody p.r. heaped on him all those years, so in love with himself is he. I think he really felt as though he *ought* to have been backed by those Greek columns, even when he went to the bathroom to take a leak.

    (This is does not excuse him, mind you. He is nonetheless malevolent, for reasons long discussed here in this forum. Were he not malevolent, he would act immediately to fix it.)

    Whether he believed it or not, he is a long-time paid-up member of the “whatever it takes, ethics and civility be damned” crowd anyway. And we have over three years left under the thumb of this disaster-in-chief, *and* his ilk (let’s not forget *them*). Heaven help us . . .

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    M J R:

    Actual quote from Obama: “You know, I actually believe my own bullshit.”

    I would suspect he believes his excrement has a pleasant odor, as well.

  8. sdferr Says:

    Patrick Deneen, following Tocqueville’s lead, touches on the possible basis of the problem Kundera and you, Neo-neocon, describe: all our problem too, it seems.

  9. Ann Says:

    Interesting that Richard Wolffe, the man who wrote that book with the Obama “I believe my own bullshit” quote, is now the executive editor of

  10. T Says:


    “I think he really believed it.”

    You know, I’m slowly coming to the belief that I don’t it’s about whether or not Obama believes—I don’t think he cares. Is there such a word as atruthful (the equivalent of amoral)? If it didn’t exist before, I think Obama may be the necessity that invents it.

  11. M J R Says:

    I don’t have a single word for “atruthful”, but the statistician in me finds this phrase appealing . . .

    “the correlation between objective reality and what this man spouts is zero” . . .

    in other words, not necessarily that everything he says is a lie, but reality and what he says may or may not coincide.

    Should the issue at hand benefit him or his agenda, we can be certain that he’ll go with what benefits him or his agenda — which again may or may not coincide with reality, with zero correlation.

  12. Doom Says:

    What’s scariest about this post? I get it. I read about it, as a youngster (on my own, mind you, schools were trying to hide that even then), and so avoided going that political way. I just hadn’t… seen how strongly that notion was alive and in play in America until you pointed it out.

  13. Mr. Frank Says:

    As has been pointed out by many, everything Obama says has an expiration date.

  14. T Says:

    Two further comments on the Obamacare debacle and its relationship with reality.

    First, the great Obamacare failure could not be a better example of theory v practice if it were intentionally scripted. As Yogi Berra noted: “In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” The promises and appearance of Obamacare in theory and what many subscribers are now finding out in practice–makes the DMV look like a cakewalk.

    Second, I’m constantly amazed at the pundits that use the chess metaphor to describe Obama (“He’s playing chess while his opponents play checkers”). They blindly focus on the process rather than on any goal.

    While Obamacare’s complexity might resemble the complexity of chess, it has run head on with reality which more resembles checkers. Because human nature hasn’t changed in tens of thousands of years, checkers, like life, is relatively simple and straightforward ; modern complexity is just artifice.

    In chess, the best you can do is confine your opponent’s king. In checkers, you get to make yourself king; “King Me!”

    Obama is just to enthralled with weaving the artifice to understand the simple reality, and as I noted above gravity, truth and reality always eventually win.

  15. Bob From Virginia Says:

    The reality of the failure of Obamacare has and will have no significant effect on his popularity. People will have to associate the two and for some reason they will not. I know it sounds nutty but from personal observation they will blame anything but Obama. Apparently it is the American version of “if only Stalin knew”.

    It will take time and pain for the reality of Obama mendacity to sink in. This electorate has too much emotionally invested in him to face reality.

  16. parker Says:

    I’m divided on whether or not BHO knew anything about the law and the regulations would effect the health care system or if he had competent advisors telling him that millions of voters will be fearful and angry once they discover what’s in it. On one hand he is lazy, aloof, and actually does believe his own bullshit. On the other hand he is certainly ready to lie to achieve his agenda. What hasn’t he lied about?

    I shall shed no tears for the voters who re-elected him and suffer the consequences of that decision. They had ample reasons to realize he is a cold, ruthless destructive man. All they had to do was pay attention from Fedruary, 2009 to November, 2012.

  17. T Says:

    Bob from VA,

    “The reality of the failure of Obamacare has and will have no significant effect on his popularity.”

    Current polls dispute that. Obama’s popularity rating has dropped to 42%. While one can argue that such score is still too high, it is the lowest his popularity has ever been. It’s still too early to tell where this will wind up.

  18. Beverly Says:

    I think this is the perfect theme song for Comrade Zero: “Extraordinary!” from the musical PIPPIN.

    Isn’t it perfect?

  19. Beverly Says:

    I’ve talked to a bunch of (mostly) New Yorkers this week, all Dimocrats; some medical people. They were all hopping mad and quite scared about the Obamacare debacle — the Sticker Shock part of it, that is.

    A doctor practically shoved me out of his life when he found out I’m losing my middle class insurance come New Year’s. I’m seeing a second-opinion person this coming week, and I’m not saying a WORD to him about my 7-week countdown.

    Damn the Left, anyway.

  20. Beverly Says:

    IOW: people have already, at least in the Apple, moved past the website issue and are looking at the steaming heap behind the curtain. The physician’s assistant today (Chinese man) said his family premium is DOUBLING under Obamacare.

    Now, I grant you he laid that at the feet of “the American system,” then went on to say that in China, all the medical care is FREE! I said, “Well, actually No, your taxes pay for it,” but he said there are No taxes in China.

    Well, what the heck is he doing in America, then?

    A clerk for another doc said to me last week, “We’re all in the same boat [with Obamacare], honey,” and she didn’t sound too pleased about it.

  21. Mike Says:

    All of the “evidence”, all of the sophisticated and very interesting analysis of the state of the culture and nation at this time points to the same general area: religion and morals.

    Confucius 2500 years ago, Jesus 200 years ago, and Pentecostal Preachers, Catholic Priests, Jewish Rabbis and anyone but the indecent and debased and degraded monster slobs of the sort who either run the education system and culture today or are run by it have all said the same thing:

    Be good. Be honest. Face the truth. Tell the truth. You can only really have a good society if there are good people.

    When our leaders are some of the most immoral and unethical liars there has even been – since they do it all the time and on a national scale and for the sole purpose of harming others and amassing power and glory for themselves – and when 50% of the so-called “people” are just as bad….

    Then what do we expect? Where do you think the cure for this ill will come from?

    Job One: Everyone needs to look in the mirror.

    Job Two: Everyone needs to get honest about what is going on and clean up their own houses.

    Job Three: We have to have our own little spiritual jihad in our own time, our own struggle. In a better day, Obama never would have been allowed to grow up to be the monster he is. But neither would the 60m people who voted for him have been able to grow up to be the certifiable jerks and nogoodniks they absolutely are.

    Until we start calling out ourselves and our own neighbors and start reforming things, it will never get better.

    It’s happened before. It can happen again. Someone once said that even Tyre and Sidon could be converted. If they could, so could we.

  22. NeoConScum Says:

    Love it. The Czech writer reminding us that the Communists insisted on the ‘reality of the lie’(aka image)being the only acceptable truth. One addition to this 40+year student of communism’s costs: In several communist states, those not buying the image or suspected of harboring doubts of the image(aka Reality)WERE KILLED BY THE MILLIONS. Those pesky Lefties…Sooooo insistent.

  23. Oblio Says:

    Mr. Obama’s followers are arguing that what he said was “truthy.” That’s the concept you are looking for.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    There was a sci fi shortstory we used to hear about. The Cold Equations.

    In it, some guy is crash landing on a planet with urgent medical supplies in the cargohold. In order to make a safe landing, he has to use up fuel propellant to negate the gravity of the planet. However, a stowaway got on board and is now messing up the mass calculations.

    She has to be jettisoned in order the equations to work.

    So in some ways, humans can fight gravity, by ejecting unnecessary things.

    Who gets sent out the airlock, however, is the debatable question. I prefer the debate of “violence” and “might” though, over the Left’s illusions and mind control.

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    In the war to come, it will be necessary to cultivate your hate much as old grannies grow herbs and fruits in the garden.

    War is suffering and harsh, cruel and hellish. Those who do not have strong internal motivations and resolve, will give up before they get on the battlefield.

    The Left’s horrors are only just beginning. All this stuff won’t even come close to the “suffering” they will inflict once their true nature manifests.

  26. Oblio Says:

    I am betting that Reality will win in the long run. What I don’t know is how high the cost of magical thinking will get before reality intrudes. I also don’t know what my share of that cost will be.

  27. Matt_SE Says:

    @Bob from Virginia

    “The reality of the failure of Obamacare has and will have no significant effect on his popularity.”

    I think the reason his personal numbers have stayed up this long is that his core supporters have never had the consequences of his failure hit them personally:
    Fast and Furious, IRS scandal, Benghazi, Syria, James Rosen and the AP…while each is a big deal, none of them impacts the low-information Democrat voter.
    Obamacare is very different. When the pain is felt by individuals, they can no longer afford to live in a bubble. Some will retreat into denial. Those are the real zealots, which I always thought were a tiny minority of maybe 10% at most.
    The rest will wonder “why is this happening?” and will look for answers in the process. This will be the first time they’ve looked at NEW evidence in a long time. Since even NBC is saying the administration lied about the “if you like your insurance…” promise, a lot of people are going to be pissed off.

  28. Matt_SE Says:

    Sub-point number one:

    “…while each is a big deal, none of them impacts the low-information Democrat voter.”

    This *might be* is a very sad commentary on the state of the American electorate. On the one hand, I think people should be informed about world events even if it doesn’t seem to impact them directly.
    OTOH, given the low percentage of colonists that took an active role in the War of Independence, I wonder if people weren’t always this disinterested.

  29. Matt_SE Says:

    Sub-point number two:

    “The rest will wonder “why is this happening?” and will look for answers in the process. This will be the first time they’ve looked at NEW evidence in a long time”

    I’m reminded of a story I read a couple of years ago about using meta-data from shopping to predict customer behavior:
    A statistician was given the task of predicting whether or not a female customer was pregnant, given nothing but her shopping habits. This data came from purchases that used a “reward card”, and is the major reason stores use these systems; to collect data on their shoppers. (and why I say meta-data collection is incredibly dangerous)
    In the end, he came up with an algorithm that could predict with something like 98% accuracy.

    The main point was the reason he was given why this prediction was important: consumers generally have rock-solid brand loyalty/preference and will only consider changing brands at a couple of junctures in their lives; times that represent big changes for them personally. One of those times is pregnancy, especially their first baby.

    This is a general phenomenon, and applies to political affiliations. I believe there’s already a number of studies showing that “independents” are not really as independent as they claim.
    Anyway, it reminds me of the low-information voters and how it is almost impossible to reach them with our arguments.
    This could be, as they say, a “teachable moment.”

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    The moment when something is named, is when it no longer exists as a pure entity.

    The Wu is not the Wu when it is written and named by humans. The infinite harmony is no longer infinite when mortals grasp its nature.

    As such individuals when allowed to be put into a “category” by the Regime, will soon cease to be individuals, if ever they were humans with free will.

  31. blert Says:

    0-care is a perfect example of “a small injury” as defined by Machiavelli.

    We are witnessing an inflection point for countless Americans.

    I chuckle when reading Leftist MSM analytics. They still think of this as impacting 5% of the population — and mostly the GOP.

    As IF!

    0-care is negatively impacting virtually the entire population.

    1) For those on the losing side, financially, include those covered — nay uncovered — by their employers as well as those who’ve held individual plans.

    2) For those on the losing side, quality-wise, include those covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which have seen the Advantage scheme torn up — and the latter which are seeing a massive influx of new dependents — WITHOUT any provision for additional staffing.

    The hostility of the public to the disruption of their established physicians and clinics is going to be vast. Even at this hour, most Americans don’t realize that they’re destined to be redirected to queues. The number of physicians/ clinics boycotting 0-care is VAST.

    Barry has America signing up by the dozens for a scheme that has virtually no resources backing it up.

    In engineering speak, the 0-care has hit a boundary condition. It needs the medical community to take a horrific cut in pay, in working conditions, and loss of professionalism.

    For the Feds, to control costs, have written up dictats that put physicians in a straight jacket. They’re being reduced down to over-educated nurses. The patient community is being reduced to livestock.

    The mega database will be for us a replacement for ear tags — so commonly seen at feedlots.

    The opportunity for political control is unlimited. Whereas Stalin and Mao had to murder millions to gain absolute power — Barry can do so in a ‘soft’ way. He’s making himself the Pope of Washington DC — and Popes are elected only by the hyper-elites.

    (Structurally, Stalinist party politics were mirrored on the Catholic Church — to an astonishing degree. Their organizational structures map 1:1. It’s not a coincidence.)


    The chance that the Website can be fixed by the end of this month is zero. 0-care is granular down to the county level — not to the state level.

    For the actual policies are priced based upon which county you’re living in! This all has to be coded. There is no such thing as a state wide policy pool. This structure replicates Medicaid.

    It’s not for nothing that the earliest ‘success’ with the Website were those that defaulted to Medicaid. It’s a decision that comes early in the algorithm. Hence, the the cluster that is the rest of the code is never passed through.

    Voila, success!

  32. T Says:

    Above (11/1 @ 11:12) I noted that “modern complexity is just artifice.” Instapundit links to a post at Sultan Knish which examines the same idea much more deeply and with greater eloquence than my simple one-liner.

    The money quote, cited by Instapundit is:

    Our modernity is style rather than substance. . . . It’s that sense that X knows what he’s doing because he presents it the right way. There’s nothing particularly modern about that. In most cultures, the illusion of competence trumps the real thing.

    To quote the professor: read the whole thing.

  33. blert Says:

    Barry’s popularity is tipping over.

    0-care is going to ‘touch’ everyone.

    It’s the biggest political event since the end of the Cold War/ WWIII.

    It’s not about health care — it’s about creating a one-party state.

    Period, stop.

    Amnesty is an adjunct to the grand scheme.

    In a quirk of American luck: Barry can’t do math.

    So his gambit can’t pencil out — and must Cloward-Piven ITSELF into the abyss.


    In all of their dreaming, it never occurred to C-P that they’d collapse the street cred of Liberalism / Big Government — that the reset would GUT redistributionism.

    But that’s the necessary outcome of crashing the dollar/ economy. It’s axiomatic. The VERY mechanism of redistribution — the US Dollar — must be impaled upon the pyre of their ambit.

    Pushing dollars around IS the business of Big Government.

    Lacking currency, the Feds will be left yelling into the wind.

    It’s happened countless times before.

    So much for the mandate of Heaven.

  34. T Says:

    “In all of their dreaming, it never occurred to C-P that they’d collapse the street cred of Liberalism / Big Government . . . .”

    As Victor Davis Hanson has pointed out numerous times, [Cloward-Piven] hubris gives rise to nemesis. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving subculture.

    Now, a bowl of popcorn and a nice bottle of Schadenfreude to make the event complete.


    [...] …from a quote on the Neo-Neocon blog [...]

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