I honestly have no idea what Dylan Matthews’s point is in this post, but it does remind me that I am a bit annoyed by the president’s claim that he got a letter “from a woman” saying, “I don’t want government-run health care, I don’t want socialized medicine, and don’t touch my Medicare.” First of all, like Bill Kristol, I am skeptical about the veracity of this story. A suspiciously similar story was told by Senator John Breaux during the fight over Clintoncare (see Matthews’s post). If Obama wasn’t just making the story up, I’d bet that he got a letter including sentiments that he has twisted a bit. Jonathan Alter, naturally, was too busy attacking conservative strawmen to bring any journalistic scrutiny to bear on Obama.
Second, like a lot of liberal commentary on health care these days, the story is meant to suggest that only irrationality and ignorance could possibly explain resistance to the legislation being debated on Capitol Hill. Third, while the phrasing may be infelicitous, there’s nothing internally inconsistent in thinking that any health-care policy changes this cast of characters in Washington makes–to Medicare, or to health care outside of Medicare–are more likely to be bad than good.
Update: See here.