President Obama tells Barbara Walters that he is “extraordinarily proud” of having enacted Obamacare. He should be. This has been a core left-liberal agenda item for decades. Obama got it done.
Moreover, his decision to get it done was a courageous one. According to The Promise, Jonathan Alter’s book about Obama’s first year in office, the president’s advisers were opposed to pushing health care reform in 2009, given the parlous state of the economy. But Obama put political expedience to the side and forged ahead.
Obama stuck to his guns even after Scott Brown’s election (1) signaled the public’s deep dissatisfaction with Obamacare and (2) made its passage extremely uncertain. As a result, barring repeal or blockage, the left’s dream of near-universal insurance coverage will become a reality. So too will its dream of extensive federal regulatory control of one-sixth of the American economy. And a foundation has been laid for even greater government control of that sector. Thus, Sen. Thomas Harkin aptly compared Obamacare to a starter home to which “we can build additions as we go along in the future.”
It is amusing, then, to witness a series of leftists, including Paul Krugman and Robert Kuttner, proclaiming Obama a grave disappointment to the cause. Kuttner lamented: “I cannot recall a president who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as chief executive.”
If a political dud is someone whose popularity is low, then Obama qualifies right now. But to the extent Obama’s unpopularity stems from anything he did, polling shows that it stems primarily from the enactment of the largest stimulus bill Congress was willing to pass and, to a greatter degree, the enactment of Obamacare.
Because both programs were advocated by the left, it seems churlish of Kuttner, Krugman, and the rest to be throwing Obama under the bus. And, because Obama ignored the advice of more moderate/pragmatic advisers who wanted him to wait on health care reform, it is particularly obnoxious for Kuttner to attack Obama for not being “a fighter.” Finally, leftist attacks on Obama’s skills are absurd on their face. Obama did not forget how to give a good speech when he became president.
But churlishness is a small price to pay for being able to deny the obvious – a leftist agenda isn’t popular with a centrist electorate during, especially when the economy is struggling.
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