Thursday, September 10, 2009

SWNIDisms on the Speech

On the Morning After the Evening Everything Changed, we make the following observations about the President's halftime pep talk to the Democratic healthcare team:
  • Telling Moment #1: Obama's intro remark, "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last." Even as a throwaway bit of rhetorical ornamentation, this was highly regrettable. No one is ever the last person to take up a cause. That is, unless Obama is making a veiled prediction of the coming apocalypse. What this remark feeds is the disturbing, recurrent suspicion that Obama wants to personally make history more than make sense.
  • Telling Moment #2: Joe Wilson's stupid and unparliamentary yelling of "You lie" was instantly met with The Look (a.k.a. The LQQK, a.k.a The Death Stare) from Speaker Pelosi. The public has heard rumors of The Look in party caucus meetings and the like; now we've seen for ourselves its laser-like, ruthless intensity. Altogether, Ms. Pelosi's visage was the event's primary source of variety. We note in passing that those who continue to beat the illegal-immigration drum will kill the Republican Party exactly when it is most needed.
  • Telling Moment #3: "And while there remain some significant details to be ironed out . . ." This after saying, "Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan." Republican laughter in response was their only good moment.
  • Telling Moment #4: Arguing the need for more competition because of the lack of competition in some states ("in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies," which suggests a mean of 15% of market share for states where the number is indeed five, or less than Kroger's share of the Greater Cincinnati grocery market; "In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company," which we assume in the absence of research is the result of significant legislatively imposed mandates on coverage, which have driven providers out of other states, e.g. Kentucky, until such mandates are reversed), saying a "public option" will provide such a source of competition, but then asserting, "we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up." So how much competition will be provided by a plan that only captures 5% of the market?
  • Telling Moment #5: The biggest applause line of the evening was, "Now, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for -- from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy." Obama said "part," but his party applauded like he said "all and then some." The Democratic caucus has nothing to unite it except Bush hatred.
  • Most typical moment: Obama's favorite rhetorical device is to set up a false choice between extremes and position himself in the middle. And so he said, "There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's, where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." This he then uses to justify a move to "build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch." This device justifies what is most reprehensible about Obama's approach. The present "system" is no system at all but a series of historical accidents and miscalculations that has so distorted ordinary human behavior in markets as to remove restraint on demand, thereby driving up costs and consumption simultaneously. Promising improvements that will lower out-of-pocket expenses and remove caps on coverage hardly gets at the root of the problem.
  • Fulfilled prediction: Obama mentioned and ridiculed the "death panels" accusation. We don't claim any real predictive credit for this. Everyone knew it was coming.
  • Biggest problem for Obama: how to pay for all of this. Even the AP notes that math doesn't work. Even RINO Olympia Snow agrees that there's no way to make the math work. Obama's best hope is that a nation that plays the lottery en masse won't notice or care.
  • What Hillary is thinking: You dog! In the primaries you attacked me for proposing mandated coverage, I said that you were being unrealistic and dishonest to promise unconditional coverage without a mandate, and now you flip-flop while I'm sitting in the front row wearing a bright red pantsuit!
  • What McCain is thinking: You dog! You attack me in the general election for proposing a tax on high-end benefits, and now you want to do that very thing, disguising it as a fee on insurance companies, yet you claim to be bipartisan by proposing a program for folks with pre-existing conditions, something that I adopted from Democrat plans!
  • Greatest pathos: the extremely predictable closing reference to St. Ted the Rogue. For widow Victoria, it appeared to be a genuinely touching moment, and we offer her sympathy on her loss. For the Dems, it was a script with which they are familiar, and they responded on cue with expressions of grief. For the mainstream America, which has celebrity-driven curiosity but little sentimentality about the Kennedys, it was a bomb. All Obama did with his closing was fulfill the expectations of those closest to him, perhaps revealing that he lacks the political acumen to judge the public mood accurately.
In sum, it was a decently crafted political speech, delivered with Obama's usual aplomb. It doesn't move a blessed thing. By leaving the details up to Congress, Obama hasn't moved tactically from where he was in January. By sticking with patching the distorted system rather than reorienting it to behavioral realities reflected in market economics, he will suffer the same defeat as Clinton.

As long as Democrats long to do what FDR couldn't--federalize health insurance--rather than provide access to health insurance, they will continue to peddle this inferior product, experience political failure in the form of popular rejection of their proposal, and then blame themselves for being stupid tacticians.


texas tea said...

Besides being less decorous what was the difference in Rep. Wilson calling out the President as a liar and the President calling out his critics as liars. Tit or Tat as I see it.

KevinAK said...

If the Republican party is not willing to stand up for the conservative principles it was founded upon it deserves to die.
That includes enforcing existing immigration laws.

Jim Shoes said...

What if Republicans stood up for conservative principles by rewriting immigration laws?