Oh, Bill Clinton.
Just as the Obama White House was scrambling to keep Democrats from jumping ship on the double disaster of ObamaCare – people thrown off their insurance because of an ideological decision who are now unable to buy new policies because of technical incompetence – the former president thought he ought to offer his two cents.
“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,” the Big Dog told Ozy, the new liberal news site launched by some of the Clintons’ friends and allies.
But the current Democrat in the White House didn’t honor that commitment on purpose. This is the plan. It’s only because his administration is bad at the Internet that the millions of disrupted policies are even being treated as a problem by the administration.
President Obama, when he was reluctantly lapping up the saucer of apology sauce being served up by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd last week, said “that’s something that we’re going to do everything we can to get fixed.” The “something” the president described wasn’t that people lost their policies despite him saying otherwise. The problem is that they might not be able to afford new, more expensive policies or even penetrate the terrible Web site his team built to buy the product.
Obama meant for the policies to be taken away, he just did it poorly.
So it’s not just being bad at the Internet. It’s also, as Obama told Todd, not doing “a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law” – i.e. not including enough free money so people could afford the policies they were being forced to buy.
At the White House, Jay Carney (who seems like he is due for a visit from Mike Rowe any day now “… and after we meet the owl vomit collector, we’ll head over to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave….”) said that Obama and Clinton were on the same page in that they both wanted to “fix” the problem.
Obama is looking at ways to execute his original plan: outlaw millions of individual insurance policies, continue to claim otherwise to win re-election and then deliver the dislocated policyholders into a subsidized ObamaCare haven. Clinton said that there ought to be a law that forces Obama to keep the promise he did not intend to honor.
Obama is sorry that people aren’t yet able to get what he knows is better for them. Clinton thinks people ought to get what they want, even if Obama doesn’t like it. Or even if Clinton doesn’t like it. Or even if it’s not the best thing for them.
That’s likely because Clinton has governed. He’s governed a conservative state as a liberal with an even more liberal first lady. Ditto for the nation. He governed under Democratic control and in a divided Washington. He governed while he was being impeached for lying about receiving fellatio from a 22-year-old. The dude could govern.
Obama? Not so much.
Politics have been remarkably ideological in the Obama era. The president has been endlessly about the business of “transforming” America while Republicans have been splitting ideological differences finer than frog hair.
Divided government has invited both sides into the abstract politics of impossibility: If nothing is going to happen anyway, why not live it up with your imaginary policies. Let’s pretend that there will be huge new taxes on capital and carbon! How about some Medicare vouchers?
It may sound silly for people who can’t even manage to pass a budget to talk about such flights of partisan fancy, but it’s not so crazy. Washington, imprisoned by gridlock, has been living the life of the mind. Expectations could hardly be lower, so it’s not like Americans will suddenly be outraged over a “do-nothing” government.
Plus, it’s great for fundraising. Donors are told that the glorious revolution is just one or two more cycles away… if only they’ll keep funding attack ads. Like conquistadors seeking funding, politicians need a City of Gold to promise their backers.
But before the Obama expedition got lost in the jungle, there was a frenzied period of action that resulted in a law larger and more ambitious than anything Washington had tried for a generation. A financial panic and a war-weary electorate delivered a Democratic supermajority. Its leader, blessed with stratospheric poll numbers, tore out after his party’s El Dorado of universal health insurance. The think tanks and political promises suddenly turned into legislative reality.
So they built the law. But as the president now realizes, they didn’t do a very good job and is now willing to look into some “fixes.”
Millions of Americans are facing a Dec. 15 deadline for the entire federal government to be able to operate a single Web site or else they and their loved ones might lose their health coverage.
Team Obama built the law wrong in 2009 and 2010 and then couldn’t figure out how in the span of three years to build the Web site on which the law depends. But now they can fix it all in a month. Got it.
Obama can’t do what Clinton suggests because if he did, the flaking mortar that holds together the law would start to fall out altogether. If America does not endure the coming crash, health insurance cannot be transformed in a historic, monumental, Obamian way.
Clinton, on the other hand, knows that America won’t be very forgiving about people who crash the insurance system on purpose. If Obama doesn’t relent he might not end up with changes to the law but with republicans winning two wave elections and replacing ObamaCare with whatever the boys in the lab at AEI are brewing up.
And that’s the difference between politicians and ideologues. One cares about what you think. The other cares about what he thinks.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. His Power Play column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays at FoxNews.com. Catch Chris live online weekdays at 11:30 am ET. Read his “Fox News First” newsletter published each weekday morning. Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.