President Obama speaks at the Port of New Orleans Friday.
Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Obama speaks at the Port of New Orleans Friday.

The Obamapology


In 2009, President Barack Obama told the American Medical Association:

“No matter how we reform healthcare, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

That was as clear as a human being can be.

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In an interview last week, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked the president if he owed an apology to the millions of people he misled with such statements.

Obama expressed regrets. His government “didn’t do a good enough job” implementing the law. “I regret that,” he said. But he added, “We’re talking about 5 percent of the population,” what he called “a small amount,” and quickly added that many of their plans were “sub-par” anyway. Nonetheless, he sympathized.

This 5 percent number he trivialized is 15 million people, half the number he claimed during the 2008 campaign was a crisis level of uninsured people. This supposedly crisis figure included people who could not afford insurance but also many young people who did not want it, whereas these 15 million had insurance and now, because of government meddling, do not.

Obama then lamented, as he often does, his failure to communicate: “I regret very much … that, you know, we weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place.” But again he qualified his regrets, claiming these troubles were just a blessing in disguise: “Keep in mind that most of the folks who got these cancellation letters, they’ll be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper in these new marketplaces.” But only most. And we’ve heard his promises before.

He admitted the law was poorly written: “Obviously we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law, and that’s something that I regret.” But even then he prefaced that admission with a rosy, “We really believe that ultimately they’re going to be better off. …”

The president came closest to a mea culpa here: “Even though it is a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, uh, you know it means a lot to them and it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.”

He said, “I am sorry” but did not admit wrongdoing. He stated his role so indirectly it was almost hidden. And again he minimized the problem: It is a “small percentage” who then only “may be” disadvantaged.

At the televised 2009 Health Care Summit with his Republican critics, Obama said these very same things in response to Rep. Eric Cantor’s warning that 8 to 9 million people would lose their insurance. He trivialized the number and redirected attention to the better deals they would have in the exchange. Sound familiar?

Obama seems to think of himself as Curious George who causes disaster but then saves the day in the end making everyone happier. But here Barry’s the hero, and the Voter in the Yellow Hat is not seeing things quite that way.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.


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