Bill Otis offers a powerful analysis of President Obama’s current woes:
It seems to me that the explanation for Obama’s current woes is simple: He over-read his mandate, to the extent there ever was a “mandate.”
When you campaign on vacuous nonsense like “Yes We Can!” and “Hope and Change” and other such empty bromides, your victory hardly betokens a public desperate for specific and massive changes affecting intensely personal issues, like who you can choose as your doctor and how it’s going to get paid for (or not paid for and thus, as people are starting to understand, rationed).
This would be true in any event, but it’s especially true with Obama, for several reasons. First, he got no landslide. Winning 53 to 46 isn’t that close, but it’s not anything like what (say) Reagan got in either of his elections. Second, Obama ran as The Man Who Wasn’t Bush. That was shrewd, and successful, but it scarcely bespeaks a public clamor for any particular change. Third and relatedly, but for the banking meltdown in mid-September, it isn’t clear that Obama would have won at all; the polls were close up to that point. Fourth, as has been noted many times, a significant part of the public wanted to elect a black man as President. That is understandable in its way, but the subterrainian longing for racial expiation can hardly be confused (by rational people, anyway) as a longing for socialized medicine.
And it’s not so much that Obama tried to put over “too much too soon,” as is commonly said. That gives him more credit than he deserves. It’s that he tried to put over something the majority simply doesn’t want and is properly suspicious of — a massive change in a system that most people believe (correctly) serves them well.
Still, the push for health care “reform” is in one important way, as your title states, a recklessness borne of arrogance — or if not arrogance exactly, then of the echo-chamber quality of a liberalism that can no longer hear the outside world or, increasingly, itself. This is again related to the way Obama campaigned and has governed. The fact that big majorities are satisfied with the health care system in general and their care in particular just does not register with him. What registers are the Queen for a Day stories — the cancer-stricken granny whose insurance company cuts her off three days before chemotherapy was to have begun, etc.
Putting a single human face on policy choices that will affect 300,000,000 people paints a powerful picture. But in short order it succumbs to the defects of its “virtues.” The public is not yet so dumbed-down that it’s going to cashier a system it knows and likes in favor of the Government Sponsored Unknown, and still less is it going to do such a thing on the basis of a handful of anecdotal horror stories — stories that it senses are deeply dishonest for attempting to convey as routine something people know is anything but.
Bottom line: When you hide your substantive agenda and campaign on nothing, don’t be surprised when nothing is the public’s response after the agenda actually shows itself.