Thursday, June 25, 2009
Another Joe-the-Plumber Moment
A lot of people were upset yesterday, when ABC News spent an entire day at the White House, devoting the day's coverage to President Obama's health-care reform proposals. It was seen as an unpaid infomercial for the President -- which is no doubt what it was intended to be, and what in many ways it was. A lot of angry ink was devoted to the need for an impartial press -- one that will make the party in power uncomfortable, not act as its warm and fuzzy mouthpiece.
And I agree with that, as far as it goes. But I think a lot of us underestimated President Obama's tendency to go off script:
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by insurance.We feel the same way about our family members, Mr. President. That's the point.
Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn't seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he's proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.
The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if "it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care".
As Ed Morrissey points out: "If ObamaCare isn’t good enough for Sasha, Malia, or Michelle, then it’s not good enough for America."
This reminds me a lot of the innocent question Joe Wurzelbacher asked then-Senator Obama on the campaign trail -- "do you believe in the American dream?" -- resulting in a lengthy answer that included the magic phrase: "...and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." That phrase gave Mr. Obama a lot of grief, and Mr. Wurzelbacher was pilloried for getting him to say it -- but it was a moment of truth, wasn't it?
And so is this. If President Obama really believed in his health-care proposals, he'd be willing to pledge to put himself (and his family) on them as well, to serve as an example.
Heck, if he believed in setting a good example, he'd require all members of Congress, and their families, to be on the plan... which would cause Congress to make sure the plan was good before they voted for it. That would demonstrate that passing the plan is less important than making sure it's a good plan... and we're all in favor of that, right?
(UPDATE: I love it when people agree with me.)
Will Dr. Devinsky be demonized for having the temerity to ask the question? Will ABC News? I don't know. But it does seem that, in response to President Obama's wilder proposals, the thing to do is just to keep him talking.
The trick then is to pay attention to what he says... and hold him to it.
(Of course, that's exactly what we need an independent press to do. But ABC still seems to have done the country a service, however inadvertently, by getting President Obama to say -- on live television -- exactly how much he believes in his own plan.)