“Obama to campaign to ensure health law's success”
— the New York Times, Nov. 4
The Obamacare website doesn't work. Hundreds of thousands of insured Americans are seeing their plans summarily terminated. Millions more face the same prospect next year. Confronted with a crisis of governance, how does President Barack Obama respond? He campaigns.
“I've got one more campaign in me,” he told grass-roots supporters Monday — a series of speeches and rallies, explains the New York Times, “to make sure his signature health care law works.”
Campaigning to make something work? How does that work? Presidential sweet-talk persuades the nonfunctional Web portal to function? This odd belief that rhetoric trumps reality leads to strange scenes. Like the ShamWow pitch, Obama's nationally televised address trying to resell Obamacare. Don't worry about the website, he said. I'll get it fixed. And besides, there are alternatives, such as an 800 number that he promptly gave out. Twice.
You half expected him to offer a ShamWow special: Add the mop and get a free year of Obamacare! But the 800 number was more than bad form. It was bad substance. Turns out you can give all the information you want to the person at the other end of the line — or to your friendly community “navigator” — but that person must enter your data into the very same nonfunctioning website.
Doesn't Obama know this? Does he really think that this TV campaign would work when anybody who actually does what he suggests would find himself still stuck in the same cul-de-sac? And yet he tried precisely the same tack when the second crisis — the canceled policies — struck.
Last Wednesday, he simply denied reality and said he really hasn't changed his message from when he promised in June 2009: “If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. Period.” Instead of simply admitting he was wrong, he goes Clintonian, explaining that the pledge only applied to certain specified plans — which he now says he meant all along. Alas, this is one case of death by punctuation. “Period” means without caveats, modifications, loopholes or escape hatches.