Barack Obama said on Wednesday night that he "did not come here just to clean up crises." True, he also came to create them. Even the dominant media noticed that the health care "crisis" had grown a little less severe by Wednesday night.
Previously, Obama had cited "46 million" uninsured in America. But in Wednesday's speech the number of uninsured suddenly dropped by 16 million, as Alec MacGillis noted in the Washington Post.
"There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage," Obama said. This casual change in his apocalyptic rhetoric once again illustrates that sorting through his gravely-cited numbers in the tedious back-and-forth of this debate is pointless: they usually disintegrate under close scrutiny.
Obama's speech was only accidentally interesting in its propagandistic arrogance and revealing defensiveness. His anger at "lies" grows in proportion to their accuracy.
The dictatorial tone of this passage was particularly telling: "It's worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I've proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn't be exaggerated -- by the left, the right, or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles."
Imagine the reaction to a Republican president issuing a scolding like this on how political opponents and "the media" should weight a given proposal.
In his customarily controlling manner, Obama seeks to stunt the debate by setting up narrow propagandistic parameters for it: to reject the bill is "politics," to "improve" it is statesmanship. "The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action," he said. But the only sane response to a bad bill is flat opposition. Bitter experience has shown by now that "the risks" of an inactive federal government are well worth running.
Why Obama needed to hector "the media" on the proper interpretation of his propaganda wasn't clear. They have worked overtime to disseminate it and regulate Republican criticisms. Journalists never fail to denounce the "death panel" objection to the original end-of-life-consultation provision in the House bill as a "myth" and "rumor." Washington Post media critic Tom Shales, apparently a careful student of the proposals in between clicks of his remote, called it the "most preposterous" of objections.
But if it is so preposterous, why hasn't the provision been restored to the proposals? Put it back in the bill if it is so harmless. That Obama and his allies protest this objection so much reveals one of the bill's most basic weaknesses: a morally reckless and incompetent federal government is fundamentally untrustworthy in the eyes of the American people.
Of course, the federal government is not going to announce that it will pressure the elderly to choose euthanasia in the hopes of cutting costs, but if end-of-life consultations were enacted that's exactly what would happen. Of course, Obama is going to say that he would never dream of subsidizing abortions in his plan. But he already does subsidize abortions, both at home and abroad, through his first executive orders.
To hear the Democrats in recent days talk reassuringly about the "Hyde Amendment" that banned the federal government from paying for most abortions, one would think they voted for it. They didn't. And if a stronger version of the Hyde Amendment were now proposed, they would never support it.
Obama didn't scream "you lie" at his opponents, but said the equivalent more sedately, even though each objection branded a lie is a reasonable interpretation of what the federal government has already undertaken or he has proposed previously. To Obama, these objections are just "details" to be "ironed out." To millions of Americans, they are heedless proposals that could cost them their lives.