Ed Driscoll

All the President's On-the-Job Training

“We have a great sense this week again of the [Obama administration] making it up as they go along, as kind of government by teenagers,” George Will said yesterday on the Fox News All-Star Panel, but actually, that’s an insult to teenagers. All of us learn by age 17 that government is a non-functioning Leviathan mess, during our first visit to the local branch of the DMV, as Charles Krauthammer writes in his latest column. All of us, that is, except the president.

Krauthammer notes that at age 52, Mr. Obama has made a breakthrough discovery: “We have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly,” he told Chris Matthews during his recent vanity interview with NBC. As Krauthammer responsd, that’s a rather “interesting discovery to make after having consigned the vast universe of American medicine, one-sixth of the U.S. economy, to the tender mercies of the agency bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.”

Read the whole thing, which outlines the repeated examples of this curious admission from the president, uttered in various forms after each of his Keynesian-based crony socialist programs either explodes on the launching pad, or fails to achieve flight:

The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. The sweep and scope of his health-care legislation alone are unprecedented. He’s spent billions of tax dollars attempting to create, by fiat and ex nihilo, a new green economy. His (failed) cap-and-trade bill would have given him regulatory control of the energy economy. He wants universal preschool and has just announced his unwavering commitment to slaying the dragon of economic inequality, which, like the poor, has always been with us.

Obama’s discovery that government bureaucracies don’t do things very well creates a breathtaking disconnect between his transformative ambitions and his detachment from the job itself. How does his Olympian vision coexist with the lassitude of his actual governance, a passivity that verges on absenteeism?

What bridges that gap is rhetoric. Barack Obama is a master rhetorician. It’s allowed him to move crowds, rise inexorably, and twice win the most glittering prize of all. Rhetoric has changed his reality. For Obama, it can change the country’s. Hope and change, after all, is a rhetorical device. Of the kind Obama has always imagined can move mountains.

That’s why his reaction to the Obamacare website’s crash-on-takeoff is so telling. His remedy? A cross-country campaign-style speaking tour. As if rhetoric could repeal that reality.

And speaking of the R-Word, “The Left’s Reality Problem” is explored by Rich Lowry of National Review, in the otherwise-leftwing and usually unreality-based Politico:

The “reality-based community” isn’t what it used to be. Progressives spent much of the George W. Bush years deriding the right for disdaining reality itself and waging an associated “war on science,” such was its purported hostility to evidence. The meme arose from a high-handed blind quote from a Bush senior adviser to journalist Ron Suskind; the adviser said that people in the “reality-based community” underestimated how the United States could alter the state of things through the exercise of its power.

The left happily adopted the appellation “reality-based community.” (You can still find T-shirts and bumper stickers online.) It congratulated itself on its factual rigor and nominated for president a man whose initial appeal was based, in part, on his exquisite sense of nuance. Message: We’re more empirically grounded and intellectually supple than you.

The erstwhile reality-based community is having a tough time of it lately, though. Most infamously, Obamacare is foundering on the flagrant deceptions used to sell it, exposed every day by the workings of the law in reality.

Many liberals still don’t want to acknowledge the rather straightforward fact that if you mandate more insurance benefits in the so-called Affordable Care Act, insurance will cost more. QED. You might be able to cushion the cost increase for some people with subsidies, but not for everyone, and the underlying insurance is still more—not less—expensive.

One of the aspects that makes Obamacare unique is its destructive speed. It took decades for the notion that FDR’s Social Security was an insolvent Ponzi scheme to reach fruition. LBJ passed his Great Society programs in the mid-’60s; it took about two decades before President Reagan could accurately point out, “In the sixties we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” If you’ve never seen the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, you’ll be amazed at how glacially (if you’ll pardon the pun) the disaster unfolds. Initially, only a handful of crewmen are aware that the Titanic has scraped an iceberg. Then they fetch the captain. Who then calls for the ship’s designer, who’s also onboard, for confirmation. Compared to the modern disaster movie, it’s an agonizingly long time before the ship is perched at a 45 degree angle and about to slide into the Atlantic. In contrast, Obamacare is like the bomb onboard the 707 in the first Airport movie, made a decade later: It’s exploded with such a bang, everybody knows the plane will quickly auger into the ground unless drastic measures are taken by Dean Martin and the rest of the crew.

Of course in this case, it’s Obamacare that’s the bomb. (Bill Ayers thought on such a small scale compared to his acolyte.) As Brian Cates writes at his Draw & Strike blog:

The difference with ObamaCare is that Obama & his administration have gone about passing & implementing this disastrous new policy so quickly with such a high level of deception and such abject incompetence that there isn’t any gap in time of a few years in which to spin the increasingly evident bad results.

Never before have the progressives driving for social change gone for it with the speed – and the outright deceptions — that the Obama administration has. Which means the bad results are cropping up immediately and in a way that it’s impossible to paper them over or shift the blame onto others.

Those who tried to warn the country what ObamaCare would actually do had to endure almost 5 years of ridicule, mocking and name calling for trying to sound the alarm. They were called racists and far worse. And now it’s evident they were right all along.

Progressives have done more to destroy their carefully crafted illusion of competency with this ObamaCare trainwreck than the GOP establishment ever did.

Progressives like Obama can only lobby for more power to be given to them based on promises about what they will competently do with it. In just a short amount of time, Obama & Co. have revealed themselves to not only be abject liars, but also completely incompetent blunderers.

The blowback for this should reach spectacular proportions. The Democratic Party can lie and spin all they want, say whatever they think will get them a momentary advantage. But millions of people over the next year will clearly see their experiences on health insurance are not matching the Democratic leadership’s increasingly desperate rhetoric.

And it used to be that the negative aspects of socialism were things that only happened to other people. Pauline Kael’s infamous quote regarding the reelection of Richard Nixon in December of 1972 sums up the insulation of elite left perfectly:

I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.

They’re the silent majority who are “outside my ken,” whom Kael was only vaguely aware of, whose presence she’ll only tentatively acknowledge. Obamacare is the first government program that immediately hits wealthy urban limousine leftists since the initial passing of the income tax in 1913 — and good and hard, as Mencken would say. While the Obama administration has no problem with screwing over small businesses and middle class sole proprietors, whom they loathe almost as much as their boss has openly admitted over the course of his entire adult life, we’ve already speculated that they didn’t count on so many writers and pundits being independent contractors who would be (a) losing their coverage and (b) rather visibly writing about their experiences in newspapers and magazines. But the New York Times, the left’s house organ, points out another group of professionals who are losing their coverage as well:

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, [Unexpectedly! — Ed] thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual informal health insurance system that has developed in New York in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

Ms. Meinwald, 61, has been paying $10,000 a year for her insurance through the New York City Bar. A broker told her that a new temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost $5,000 more, after factoring in the cost of her medications.

Ms. Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange. But she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered. “It’s like you’re blindfolded and you’re told that you have to buy something,” she said.

In a sense, it’s just the opposite — New York leftists put the blinders on long ago. Only now are they tentatively opening their eyes:

It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

It would be easy to read that last sentence and chuckle a hearty Nelson Muntz-esque “ha ha!” response. It would also be staggeringly stupid, as Moe Lane writes at RedState.com:

I’d prefer that Ms. Meinwald was now hanging a Gadsden Flag in her co-op window and threatening to enter unto a blood feud with the Democratic party for the next five generations – but she’s definitely moving in the direction that I want her to go.  And if stories like this are showing up in the New York Times, of all places, then it’s very bad for the administration right now. Watching the entire edifice collapse under its own weight, in my opinion, is worth not gloating too much during the process…Basically, just enough so that people remember that we’re there. Fortunately, the GOP really invested in the We absolutely HATE Obamacare brand.

In September of 2008, the governor of Alaska warned the American people, “My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of ‘personal discovery.'”

Naturally, she was pilloried by the American left — very likely including the same people the New York Times quotes above — for pointing out that the Lightworker’s brilliantly creased bespoke clothing contained no emperor inside them.

Update: Trapped like myself deep behind blue state lines amongst people who are only now realizing how badly they were swindled by the false god they created in 2008, Bookworm proffers some suggestions for conservatives to break the logjam of the long-running Cold Civil War.