A Phalanx of Lies
Remember that health insurance you could keep?


Mark Steyn

CNN has been pondering what they call “a particularly tough few days at the White House.” “Four out of five Americans have little or no trust in their government to do anything right,” says chief political analyst Gloria Borger. “And now Obama probably feels the same way.” Our hearts go out to him, poor wee disillusioned thing. We are assured by the headline writers that the president was “unaware” of Obamacare’s website defects, and the NSA spying, and the IRS targeting of his political enemies, and the Justice Department bugging the Associated Press, and pretty much anything else you ask him about. But, as he put it, “nobody’s madder than me” at this shadowy rogue entity called the “Government of the United States” that’s running around pulling all this stuff. And, once he finds out who’s running this Government of the United States rogue entity, he’s gonna come down as hard on him as he did on that videomaker in California; he’s gonna send round the National Park Service SWAT team to teach that punk a lesson he won’t forget.

Gloria Borger and CNN seem inclined to swallow the line that the president of the United States is not aware that he is president of the United States: For the media, just a spoonful of bovine manure makes the Obamacare medicine go down. It remains to be seen whether the American citizenry will be so genially indulgent. Hitherto, most of what the president claims to be unaware of, they are genuinely unaware of: Few people have plans to vacation in Benghazi, or shoot the breeze with Angela Merkel on her cell phone. But Obamacare is different: Whether or not the president is unaware of it, the more than 2 million Americans (at the time of writing) kicked off their current health-care plans are most certainly aware of it.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been opposed to government health care because, as I’ve said in at least two books, it fundamentally redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state into one closer to that of junkie and pusher. But that’s a philosophical position. Others prefer constitutional arguments: The federal government does not have the authority to do what it’s doing. Dear old John Roberts, chief justice of the United States, twisted himself into a pretzel to argue that, in fact, the government does. But he might as well have saved himself the trouble and just used Nancy Pelosi’s line: Asked by a journalist where in the Constitution it granted the feds the power to do this, she gave him the full Leslie Nielsen and said, “You’re not serious?” She has the measure of her people. Most Americans couldn’t care less about philosophical arguments or constitutional fine print: For them, all Obamacare has to do is work. That is why the last month has been so damaging to Big Government’s brand: In entirely non-ideological, technocratic, utilitarian terms, Obamacare is a bust.

The Canadian and British health systems get by on the principle that, as bad as they are, for enough people they’re good enough, and you don’t have to think about it. Obamacare doesn’t even meet that modest standard, and it’s not clear it ever will. You have to think about it constantly, alert to every potentially catastrophic regulatory tweak that might scuttle your next prescription refill. On Day One, the junkies were eager for their fix: As the administration crowed, the site received 4.7 million unique visits. By the following morning, the HHS “war room” was informed that “six enrollments have occurred so far.” That’s six as in half a dozen, as in fewer people than in just one vehicle of Obama’s 40-car motorcade. Kathleen Sebelius had successfully enrolled one American for every assistant secretary of health and human services. Oh, no, wait: She has seven assistant secretaries, so there was one free, waiting for that seventh enrollee. One in every 783,333 visitors managed to close the deal: Dr. Obama could make house calls to every one and still have time for a round of golf.