What if Sarah Palin had said it? What if Dan Quayle or George Bush (either one of them) had said it? The Maureen-Dowd-Frank-Rich-Chris-Matthews-Evan-Thomas snark brigade would be falling over themselves to pillory them. The hilarity would be never ending. “My God, he doesn’t know how to spell ‘potato’!” Don’t hold your breath though.
Here’s what President — “he’s a sort of God” — Obama said at a news conference yesterday: “[I]t’s clear we are on the precipice of achievement that’s eluded Congresses, presidents for generations — an achievement that will touch the lives of nearly every American.”
He probably meant “threshold.” But he said “precipice.” What’s a precipice? According to my dictionary, it’s “the brink of a dangerous situation.” And that’s certainly what we have here with the Democratic proposals to “reform” (what cards these chaps are!) health care.
Innocent mistake or Freudian slip — a verbal slip that “is indicative of an unconscious belief, thought, or emotion”? I incline to the latter. Like Sebastian in The Tempest, Obama spoke “truer than [he] purposed.” Why do I think so? Consider what comes immediately after his slip: the acknowledgment, indeed the boast, that health care “reform” is something that, if enacted, would “touch the lives of nearly every American.” You betcha! It wouldn’t affect members of the government, of course, because they would have their own gold-plated health care provisions. But the rest of us slobs would have an opportunity to get up close and personal with hospital gurneys, long waiting times, fewer doctors, especially fewer good ones, and generally poorer health care all around. How’s that for “touching lives” (and precipitating deaths)?
Everybody’s talking about the “good, solid B+” Obama gave his first 11 months when he was on the Oprah show the other day. B+, eh? Many wags pointed out this was an age of grade inflation. But when you consider that Obama went on to say he’d deserve an A if he managed to ram his government appropriation of health care down our throats (my translation), you realize that what’s going on here is not grade inflation but something far more mendacious. It’s not just a massaging of reality; it’s an active, ideological distortion of it for political gain. “Precipice” indeed. Remember that word. You’ll feel it vividly if Obama manages to push us over it.