History will record that the real Barack Obama, long obscured by political trickery and a protective media, became clearly visible in the two remarkable press conferences he held as the ObamaCare disaster unfolded: the “ShamWow” presser, in which he acted like the manic host of a TV infomercial and directed Americans to circumvent his inert $500 million website by calling a rather unfortunately chosen 800 number; and the “Fumble” presser, in which he claimed the failure of HealthCareDotGov was a stunning surprise to him, mused that buying insurance is a lot more complicated than he thought when he seized control of the industry, and invited insurance providers to cut down on the tidal wave of policy cancellations by violating the law for a year.
The ShamWow conference was illuminating because it demonstrated how insanely out-of-touch Obama is. He’s got no idea what Americans are going through. He’s still blinded by his own dazzling radiance. He clearly still thinks he’s a political miracle worker who can spin away anything. And he places no value whatsoever on the time citizens were wasting on his busted website – he told them to call 1-800-F1U-CKYO to buy insurance even though he knew that was pointless. He knew the people answering that toll-free line needed the busted computer system to sell an insurance policy; many people who took his advice reported the ObamaCare phone staff did nothing but refer them back to the haunted ruins of the website.
Obama was just playing for time, sending people off on a wild goose chase that he hoped would get him to the next news cycle. His stunt with the 800 number is also interesting in light of his admission during the “Fumble” presser that he didn’t realize how complicated insurance shopping would be. No kidding, Sherlock, what was your first clue? And what ever made you think it would be possible to conduct such shopping over the phone? Even if the 800 number had been something better than a wumpus hunt, and the navigators actually could sell insurance polices, how the heck is anyone supposed to make an informed decision among a variety of plans from different providers by listening to someone talk about them? Obviously ObamaCare would never have passed if Obama didn’t tell the Big Lie about keeping your favored existing plan, but it also wouldn’t have passed if he had not been able to boast about the sleek, smooth, convenient Amazon-style online shopping experience he has utterly failed to deliver.
The Fumble presser clearly demonstrated Obama’s utter contempt for the law, his belief that he can grant dispensations and delays with a wave of his imperial wand giving way to the utter absurdity of telling people to ignore the parts of ObamaCare he suddenly found politically inconvenient. It was just another play for time – both of these pressers illustrate this President’s strategy of dealing with scandals by surviving from one news cycle to the next, coughing out whatever deceptions or distractions it takes to get past the next round of Sunday shout shows, dragging bad stories out until they grow old enough for his media allies to euthanize them. But if the Fumble presser were taken seriously, it would show how very little Obama understands about the business world, or the economic realities facing the industry he took over. He didn’t even bother to consult with industry leaders before he gave the press conference. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and doesn’t care, because he’s never understood that economic reality cannot be dissolved by ideological conviction or political skill.
Doubtless future historians will marvel over the spectacle of Obama claiming he didn’t know how his “signature achievement” was coming along before Launch Day, and never bothered to ask. A good deal of ink was spilled after the Fumble presser, speculating that Barack Obama is hermetically sealed inside an information bubble. He doesn’t like “drama,” so his underlings fear to disturb him with bad news. But later we learned, not unexpectedly, that Obama was simply lying when he claimed he didn’t know the website would fail. There is documentation that proves he was briefed. Once again, he said what he thought was necessary to slog through a news cycle, aware that his ShamWow conference already made him look negligent and disconnected. He thought he could preserve his personal approval ratings by pretending to be a victim, an outsider who is more frustrated and angry than anyone about the failure of HealthCareDotGov.
What this all says about Obama is that he thinks politics and ideology trump not only business sense, but the mechanics of government as well. What actually happens, or fails to happen, is less important than what people can be persuaded to think about it. But he didn’t realize that his spin strategy was dealing mortal damage to his entire ideology, which is based on the allegedly superior intelligence and compassion of Big Government. There’s nothing compassionate or understanding about the ObamaCare bungle.
Those who persist in giving Obama good personal approval ratings because he “cares about them” and “understands their lives” would be well advised to remember: he knew ObamaCare would cause untold chaos with its busted website, and would wipe out millions of insurance plans contrary to his promises, but he launched it anyway. He could not have cared less about what this would do to average people. I doubt the matter was discussed in a single meeting prior to ObamaCare’s bungled launch, and probably doesn’t even come up that often now. The White House holds crisis meetings where they worry about the wrath of angry voters costing Democrats seats in 2014 and 2016, not about how people who liked their plans have been stripped of coverage, and find themselves literally unable to buy replacement plans in time, even if they can afford the huge premium increases.