The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Was Obama Naive About Obamacare’s Constitutionality?


A week ago, I wrote about the narrative among wavering Obama supporters that the man they voted for might be “naive.”

No one should count any chickens before they hatch, but the overwhelming consensus among observers of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments today was that it was a “train wreck for the Obama administration,” as CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared. More reactions can be found here in the Corner.

Did the constitutional law lecturer who pushed the bill through Congress and signed it into law naively ignore the question of whether the federal government had the authority to require citizens to purchase health insurance?

The naive narrative, in a nutshell:

Monday I spoke to a smart political mind who had been watching focus groups of wavering Obama voters in swing states, and he said that one word that those voters kept coming back to, again and again, was “naïve.” (The term was to describe the president, not themselves.) Those who voted for Obama won’t call him stupid, and certainly don’t accept that he’s evil. But they have seen grandiose promises on the stimulus fail to materialize, Obamacare touted as the answer to all their health care needs and turn out to be nothing of the sort, pledges of amazing imminent advances in alternative energy, and so on. He seemed to think that reaching out to the Iranians would lead to a change in the regime’s behavior and attitudes. He was surprised to learn that shovel-ready projects were not, in fact, shovel-ready. He was surprised to learn that large-scale investment in infrastructure and clean-energy projects wouldn’t great enormous numbers of new jobs. He’s surprised that his past housing policies haven’t helped struggling homeowners like he promised. He’s surprised that his signature health-care policy has become as controversial as it has. The “recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized.” When a woman says her semiconductor engineer husband can’t find a job, Obama says he’s surprised to hear it, because “he often hears business leaders in that field talk of a scarcity of skilled workers.”

The poor guy. He’s always getting blindsided.

Tags: Barack Obama


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