The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Lies about Lies

In June of 2009, before the ACA was passed into law, Barack Obama made the following statement in a speech to the American Medical Association:
“That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
He repeated the same few sentences dozens of times before this deeply flawed legislation was passed and then dozens more after the ACA became law. The Wall Street Journal reports that some of his advisors expressed concern that his comments were "misleading," but his political advisors worried that any qualification might ruin his re-election chances in 2012. So he lied, knowing full-well that what he was saying was not true.

But here's the interesting part. Earlier this week, the president, under siege by almost everyone including (incredibly) even some of his trained media hamsters and more than a few Democratic senators who worry about their reelection chances, said the following:
“Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”
The phrase "what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed" is absolutely, unequivocally untrue. It seems that Barack Obama is now lying about his earlier lies. Laughably, The New York Times editorial board suggests to its readers that the president "misspoke." Really? He misspoke dozens of times on the same topic? Please.

Richard Fernandez's take on all of this is interesting:
In [George Orwell's book] 1984 the Party’s main defense is not the secret police but education; through the artificial official language of Newspeak dark things are hidden in plain sight and rebellion is made impossible to articulate. There simply isn’t the vocabulary for it. Once Newspeak made has made resistance impossible it will be time to move in for the kill and argue that 2+2=5.

President Obama’s declaration that ‘you can keep your doctor’ and that you ‘can keep your health plan’ is a perfect example of “2+2=5″. The National Journal makes the mistake of thinking that Obama’s lie is unimportant because all it harms is his credibility. “On history’s scale of deception, this one leaves a light footprint. Worse lies have been told by worse presidents, leading to more severe consequences, and you could argue that withholding a caveat is more a sin of omission. But this president is toying with a fragile commodity: his credibility. Once Americans stop believing in Obama, they will stop listening to him. They won’t trust government to manage health care. And they will wonder what happened to the reform-minded leader who promised never to lie to them.”

But they are wrong. The important thing about Obama’s “2+2=5″ is not that it is a lie, but that it is a lie uttered in your face ... The New York Times goes to great lengths to argue that the president only “misspoke”; that he never “lied”.

[Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal said,] “We have a high threshold for whether someone lied.” The phrase that The Times used “means that he said something that wasn’t true.” Saying the president lied would have meant something different, Mr. Rosenthal said — that he knew it was false and intended to express the falsehood. “We don’t know that,” he said.

That is precisely the point which the Times wishes to elide. The president knew it was false and intended to express the falsehood — and we know that. The trick is to pretend that we don’t know that because to admit the fact would be to accept his contempt for us, to see the Boot in our face.
Contempt may be too strong a word, but the chutzpa that enables the president to blatantly lie and then even more blatantly lie about the lies is very concerning. It smacks of an arrogance that is dangerous at many different levels.

Peter Wegner summaries this sordid affair when he writes:
The last six weeks have been brutal ones for the Obama presidency. And I’m guessing that the damage that’s been inflicted will not be transitory. All the failures surrounding the Affordable Care Act–from the disastrous rollout of the federal health-care exchanges, to sticker shock surrounding premiums and deductibles, to the jolting realization that millions of people are now being forced out of health-care plans they like (with millions more to follow)–has likely left an indelible mark of incompetence on Mr. Obama. He looks like nothing so much as a community organizer who is totally overmatched by events.

That would be injurious enough. But now you can add to the mix the shattering of Mr. Obama’s credibility; the belief among a growing number of his fellow citizens that he cannot be trusted, that he will corrupt words in order to advance his ways. Those character defects would be troubling enough in, say, a state senator. They are much more problematic to find in an American president. It’s all very discouraging.
Very discouraging, indeed.