With Barack Obama, his rhetoric isn’t the reality. The reality of his current message on health care is actually this: bail out my presidency because I’m too big to fail.
In rhetoric, there is what is said and what is meant. Obama publicly says his health care reforms must pass to save money and save those at risk. But what he privately admits to Democrats—whose arms he is twisting to vote for reforms the public hates—is that his bill must pass by any means necessary to save his presidency.
With Obama, rhetoric and reality have conjoined in such a curious way that his presidency has taken on a “Through The Looking Glass” quality. Like the Humpty Dumpty character in that classic children’s story, Obama insists that words mean whatever he says they mean. Remember when Obama said, “stopping the economic contraction and putting people back to work” was his “number one priority”? Yet his health care plan still occupies most of his time, while joblessness remains stuck at 9.7 percent and business growth is anemic from fear of increased taxation and regulation.
The morphing of Obama’s language is captured in this exchange from Lewis Carroll's “Through The Looking Glass” involving Alice (who could represent those of us who wonder about Obama). She is speaking with Humpty Dumpty—aka Obama:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what
I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began
“They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives
you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot!
Impenetrability! That's what I say!”
On a variety of topics we have seen Obama’s language slip, slide, and seduce, shifting between impenetrability, implausibility and imperiousness. On health care, the president improbably translated government control by a “public option” to mean “choice and competition.” Obama’s initial promises of a “net federal spending cut” and “fiscal responsibility” have turned into an orgy of spending (that he calls “investments”), plus unsustainable debt and deficits. “I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive” was contradicted by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars plowed into AIG and Wall Street bonuses. Obama’s vow of an economic “recovery plan free of earmarks” became filled with them. To the president, an Islamic terrorist was an “isolated extremist.” And Obama’s pledges of “the most transparent administration in history” and “the most sweeping ethics reform in history” produced backroom vote-buying deals on health care such as the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Cornhusker Kickback,” and “Gator Aid.”
With Obama, all politics is all about him, and his personal pronouncements have proven untrustworthy. “Yes, we can!” has become “Yes, I can!” If the president succeeds this week in convincing the House to approve his health care bill it will be like a legislative gateway drug to further addict the public to Big Government dependency, controlling one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
Once that precedent is set of Obama’s power, he will move on to try to extend government control to the rest of his so-far thwarted agenda. On tap are areas like energy and taxation (cap and trade), education (the president called this weekend for an overhaul of the “No Child Left Behind” law) and pressure on employees to unionize (card check).
Pass through the looking glass of Obama’s rhetoric and we see the reality. His hope and change are more accurately hype and coercion.
As Alice in Wonderland said, “Curiouser and curiouser! It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.
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