So who’s your daddy now?
The dilemma of Barack Obama and his loyal Democrats is the gift few Republicans could have imagined only a fortnight ago. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and Obamacare is no bastard child. The president is the daddy who used to be a prouder papa than he is today. The cigars he passed around to celebrate this baby are exploding all over the place.
Everything the president does puts him deeper in the hole. His grudging concession Thursday that Obamacare stinks like the baby’s diaper was followed by the new promise that he would fix it with instructions not to enforce the law.
All the president’s men and some of his women are racing for the exits, hurrying to catch a bus, train or plane to anywhere but here. Bill Clinton bailed (though Bubba may have Hillary’s presidential prospects more in mind than the pain of others that he says he can still feel). Howard Dean, he of the famous shoutout of all the states, says Obamacare is the disaster that the daddy can’t fix. “I wonder if he has the legal authority to [fix it], since this was a congressional bill that set this up,” he says, perhaps not having heard the news that this administration suspended the Constitution long ago.
The barrage of sad stories quickens: A black college must dispense with insurance because under Obamacare mandates, it can’t afford to provide it any longer. The bad news is that only 100,000 customers have signed up for Obamacare; the worse news is that 5 million Americans have been dropped by their insurance providers. Another woman with cancer tells how she was dropped from her insurance, a victim of Obamacare fantasy guidelines. Even Jimmy Carter’s grandson, a state senator running for governor in Georgia, calls it “a mess.”
The Democrats are sore afraid of the fallout, and as the comic Brother Dave Gardner famously said, “when you are sore afraid, you are flat scared.” The temptation for the Republicans, who want it understood that they never went near the love nest where the Democrats were conceiving the president’s baby, is to watch the president twist slowly, slowly on the rope he so eagerly supplied. They must remember the first rule of politics, as any backwoods sheriff or big-city alderman could remind them, is that when your opponent is hard at work destroying himself, your only role is to stand clear and give him room.
Tip to the president’s Secret Service detail: Keep the president off the streets. That stampede of endangered Democrats racing down the street en route to next November is likely to be as mindless as anything that ever stampeded on the Chisholm Trail, and just as lethal. We don’t want the president to wind up with footprints down his back.
Obamacare was untouchable last week — “how dare you suggest that my baby isn’t the beautiful baby in the maternity ward.” But this week, the president has to concede that a baby with two or maybe three heads isn’t as beautiful as he first thought. He still doesn’t want anyone to touch the law, he said Thursday, but he’s willing, reluctantly, to allow certain insurance companies to sell policies that no longer exist to customers who can’t legally buy them. He didn’t explain exactly how his disobey-the-law solution would work in actual practice.
The president’s promised fix is less to help the peasants than to head off Democrats who will be tempted to vote for the Republican legislation in the House to grandfather all the threatened insurance. This bill may come to a vote Friday. Some of the president’s friends in the Senate, worried that they won’t be here after next year, are desperate to apply any Band-Aids they can find.
Several of the last remaining Democratic senators in the South, who wouldn’t listen to earlier pleas of their constituents to listen to them instead of the White House, are on the cusp of panic. They’re trying to come up with legislative patchwork fixes of their own.
Mr. Obama sounded unusually plaintive Thursday, insisting that he “gets it” why the Americans he betrayed with promises he never intended to keep are so angry now. He’ll get no sympathy from most of them. They’re angry at the baby daddy because it’s his baby that’s making life miserable for the neighbors. Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
“I said I would do everything we can to fix this problem and today I’m offering an idea that will help do it,” President Obama says as he announces a reprieve for insurance plans that fall short of the health care law’s standards.