Friday, February 26, 2010

Mopping Up After Obama's Sorrowful Summit

Regarding the President's televised health care "summit meeting," I mentioned in a post from yesterday that "The Republicans have it all over the Dems on substance. Obama wanted political theater but he sure didn't want the stars of the show to be Tom Coburn and John Kyl! A very bad move on Obama's part. His desperation and his unbelievable ego are getting him in deeper trouble still."

By the time the dust settled, the emerging star of the proceedings turned out to be Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.

Responses from across the media landscape agree that the Republicans stole the show, despite having less than half the time than was given to the Democrats. For it was the members of the G.O.P. who were on target with specific numbers, specific issues, specific proposals. The Dems, meanwhile, distorted the facts when they weren't ignoring them altogether. They told a lot of sad stories but gave no compelling reasons to prove their bill would solve even the problems they wailed about.

But, above them all, using more time himself than given either to other Democrats or Republicans was Barack Obama, looking more like an priggish, condescending substitute teacher than he did the President of the United States. The forum itself lessened him but his conduct during it (smug, dismissive, scolding) was a disaster.

Obama won nothing yesterday. But he lost a whole lot...even beyond the health care reform mess. For Americans saw him as churlish rather than charming, disingenuous rather than disarming. Indeed, Barack Obama seemed to go out of his way yesterday to be rude and petty -- the barbs thrown at John McCain and Eric Cantor were the kind that made even friends of the President wince. Fair-minded, non-partisan, open-minded he was not.

So why did he double down with such a risky gamble? With the American people so remarkably opposed to the ObamaCare package (not to mention those Democrats who are looking to lose in the next election because of the issue), why did the President attempt this unprecedented 6-hour infomercial...with the Republicans on hand to drop in reminders of how bloated and boondoggle a product it was?

Jonah Goldberg answers those questions in this blog post at NRO's The Corner: "I think one of the great explanations for the mess the Obama administration is in — the whole cowbell dynamic — is that he, his advisers and many of his fans in the press cannot fully grasp or appreciate the fact that he is not as charming to everyone else as he is to them (or himself). Hence, they think that the more he talks, the more persuasive he will be. Every president faces a similar problem which is why, until Obama. every White House tried to economize the deployment of the president's political capital. The Obama White House strategy is almost the rhetorical version of its Keynesianism, the more you spend, the bigger the payoff."

I agree.

But also contributing to the schoolyard overconfidence of the President and the Democrat Party is their unwillingness to acknowledge 2 things: 1) the growing power of the alternative media and 2) the fact that even many journalists in "the old media" no longer feel the leg tingles anymore in Barack Obama's presence. A year of bad governing, petulant posturing, and putting off press conferences has made them more...uh...objective. Thus, as Jill Stanek runs it down here, several in the liberal media acknowledged that the Republicans took the wreath in yesterday's "summit" game.

Again, to put on this strange TV show was one of Barack Obama's worst political decisions of his career. He had a bad product. He had a very unpopular product. He performed poorly in pitching it --- as did his pitiful Democrat sales team. And he gave time (not much, but more than enough) to the guys who offered something better.

It was a disaster for ObamaCare and for Team Obama's next three years.

Finally, one more item...

At the very end of the meeting, the Republicans (finally!) raised the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion. This should have been mentioned earlier; indeed, it should be trumpeted by the G.O.P. loudly and often. Because tax money for abortion is all over the ObamaCare bill AND because tax money for abortion is a political loser. Republicans themselves need to start reading the polls instead of the New York Times and recognize that fighting for the sanctity of life garners a lot more votes and activist energy for their campaigns than does supporting the carnage of abortion.

Kudos then to House Minority Leader, John Boehner, for bringing up this critical subject.

Boehner's remarks were dismissed entirely by President Obama who then brazenly lied about what's in the bill. “John, you know, the challenge I have here is … every so often we have a pretty good conversation .. and then we go back to the standard talking points. There are so many things you just said that people on this side would profoundly disagree with and based on my analysis is just not true." Nancy Pelosi chimed in with the same lie in her closing remarks.

But, make no mistake, lies are what the Dems are pitching. Outright lies.

As John McCormack points out in this Weekly Standard post:

There are three different provisions in the Senate/Obama plan to provide public funding of abortion.

Pelosi and Obama have long said that language like Ben Nelson's amendment to pay for abortions with money collected from individual premiums rather than federal subsidies effectively bans public funding of abortion. Bart Stupak and other pro-life Democrats dismiss this amendment as a bookkeeping scheme.

And the bill indisputably provides direct federal funding of abortions on Indian reservations and at community health centers.

(Even more details about abortion and abortion funding in the ObamaCare package can be found in this post from last week's Vital Signs Blog. And from today's Washington Examiner, Charmaine Yoest reviews this topic too -- and very well.)

On so many levels, ObamaCare is a disgraceful, expensive mess. And that's why we can all be pleased that President Obama and his fellow Democrats made such a disgraceful, expensive mess out of yesterday's TV "summit."