Obama and the Suspension of Disbelief

obama_trust_12-1-13-3 Trust, or the lack thereof.


Adding straws of scandal -- Fast and Furious, the Associated Press monitoring, the IRS fiasco, and the NSA spying -- on any presidential back except Barack Obama’s would have long ago broken it. Watergate ruined Richard Nixon. Iran-Contra earned a special prosecutor and nearly destroyed the Reagan second term. Katrina’s incompetent local and state reactions, coupled with a tardy federal effort -- and the insurgency in postwar Iraq -- ended the viability of George W. Bush in his second term.

Second, well apart from scandal, the perception of presidential lying usually ends presidential agendas. Richard Nixon resigned after never telling the truth about the Watergate cover-up. “Read my lips: no new taxes” cost George H.W. Bush his reelection. “I did not have sex with that woman” made Bill Clinton’s impeachment likely.

Yet Barack Obama on more than 20 occasions assured the American people that they could keep their existing health care coverage and their present doctor -- and still save $2,500 a year per family. He knew those fables were absolutely untrue when he repeated them serially in the reelection cycle of 2012. Yet Obama has not faced any of the fallout of the sort that greeted his predecessors, even as the wreckage of the Affordable Care Act will affect the health of Americans in ways that transcend taxes or Oval Office sex.

Instead, the healthcare falsity -- in the manner that the NSA disclosures were just more of the same old IRS and AP scandals -- joins a litany of other untruths: the constant insistence that the Benghazi deaths were due to a video, dissimulation about ending the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, the closing of Guantanamo, the “summer of recovery” after the stimulus, halving the national debt by the and of the first term, and the promised plunge in unemployment. Again -- so what that the president does not tell the truth?

Third, the public is also indifferent to incompetence. Lying is not just what should sink Obamacare. Instead, its premises -- young people will rush to sign up for something at higher costs that they rarely use to subsidize those who pay less and use it a lot, along with more coverage for more people at less cost -- are contrary to basic logic.