I recall a few ObamaCare critics floating this theory last week – maybe Obama honestly didn’t know what was going on with his “signature achievement” because he’s surrounded by lickspittles who wouldn’t dream of giving him bad news. A similar theory held that Saddam Hussein really did think he had a sizable nuclear weapons program, because his underlings weren’t about to disabuse him of the notion.
Since Obama’s political survival has been largely based on the Incompetence Defense – that remarkable innovation of this Administration in which high officials deflect scandal by making the sort of claims that would have been included in their letters of resignation a generation ago – it seems plausible that the White House staff has either explicit or tacit rules about preserving the boss’ plausible deniability. The less he knows, the more easily he can float above Washington like the Bullwinkle balloon at the Macy’s Day Parade, equally hapless and blameless.
Why the American people are willing to accept this garbage is a puzzling and frustrating mystery. Maybe they have been for a long time, given enough media bias to keep them tranquilized, and Obama was just the first Democrat to realize he could get away with it. The public dislikes “Washington” in general far more than it’s going to dislike any given President, so Obama keeps his drooping support levels out of panic territory (and got through his re-election campaign) by pretending to be a stunned and horrified bystander. Why, he holds “Washington” in as much contempt as the rest of us! Can you believe how badly all those politicians bungled the health care rollout? Barack Obama’s as angry about it as anyone, as he just explained at his Rose Garden press event, with about one percent of the passion he displays when excoriating people who disagree with him.
But seriously, folks, if you’re willing to accept this laughable “Obama didn’t know anything” spin, you’ve got to concede that it destroys the basic premise of ObamaCare. We were sold a bill of goods about a technocratic President and his team of geniuses being able to manage health insurance better than free people engaged in voluntary commerce. It’s obviously not true.
And at this point, the White House is trying to salvage its political future by making the kind of claims that would have figured in conservative editorial cartoons a year ago: nobody bothered to tell Barack Obama that his signature achievement was a guaranteed disaster, and he didn’t bother to ask, so they just went ahead and launched it anyway, knowing that a tiny fraction of the demand they claimed to anticipate (50 million uninsured!) was enough to crash the system.