Barack Obama

'Lie of the Year' Winner Barack Obama Admonishes Congress to 'Speak the Truth' About Obamacare

Uh, better late than never?


Profile in courage. ||| YouTube

Sunday night, former president Barack Obama received the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, Mass. "I am humbled by this evening and to be honored by a family that has given this country so much," the 44th president said. Caroline Kennedy, Obama's ambassador to Japan, gave a speech. James Taylor opened. I'm sure a lovely time was had by all.

The headlines from the event wrote themselves: "Barack Obama Calls on Lawmakers to be Courageous in Opposing the Republican Health Bill," "Obama calls for 'courage' to oppose Obamacare repeal," etc. Media commentators re-swooned over the former president's "American eloquence." And yet the address embodied much of what made both Obama's rhetoric and his signature legislative achievement so annoying the first time around, and so par for the course in a 2017 season of barely contained political-class hysteria over yet another ill-conceived health-system overhaul.

#Facts ||| Reason

From his career-making speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, to his first State of the Union Address*, to his Obamacare pitch in front of Congress in September 2009 and beyond, Barack Obama has made a near-art out of portraying himself as above the distasteful partisan scrum that seeks to artificially divide Americans, while seeming unusually willing to engage in self-critical introspection. Amid the ensuing din of applause from both grandstand and press box, only a few scattered observers from the cheap seats notice that this rhetorical device is routinely coupled with a political shiv to the ribs, often in the form of a straw man argument that assumes the worst about the opposing team.

Hundreds of thousands of words have been spilled about Obama's 2004 DNC speech, particularly his famous peroration that "There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America." But who now recalls that that extended rumination on national unity ended with the decidedly one-sided kicker, "[O]ut of this long political darkness a brighter day will come"? In the honeymoon glow of his February 2009 address, almost no one pointed out that there were inherent contradictions between such statements as "[W]e cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment," and "This time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet." Obama's rhetoric has always been ready to champion the notion of "going high," while making sure to land some low blows along the way.

So it was Monday night. "For many Americans I know that this feels like an uncertain and even perilous time," Obama said, setting up the head-fake. "And at such moments, courage is necessary. At such moments, we need courage to stand up to hate not just in others but in ourselves. At such moments, we need the courage to stand up to dogma not just in others but in ourselves….At such moments, it's necessary for us to show courage in challenging the status quo and in fighting the good fight but also show the courage to listen to one another and seek common ground and embrace principled compromise."

#MoreFacts ||| Reason

Sounds like a prelude to opponent-empathy and searching moral inventory, right? Only if you have failed to detect a decade worth of Obamaite straw men and false choices:

I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn't take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.

There it is: The assumption that those who would seek to revamp the Affordable Care Act are driven primarily by a desire to help the one percent get one percenter. I have a low opinion of lawmakers in general, and suspect openly that even those few in Congress who I am more ideologically sympatico with are making some pretty crass political calculations in supporting the crappy American Health Care Act, but if I were to yield to the prejudice that the legislators who disagree with my policy preferences (meaning: most all of them, most all of the time) do so because their intentions are to do evil, then at minimum I'd be doing a lousy job of journalism. Politicians may be narcissistic and self-deluded and driven far more than they'll ever admit by the transactional necessities of winning re-election, but if you dismiss all their stated motivations out of hand, you deprive yourself of predicting what dreary act of statism they'll dream up next. Say what you will about the tenets of Jeff Sessions, but at least he has an ethos, and understanding how he imagines that he's doing good will help you prevent him from doing more bad. Same goes for Bernie Sanders.

Obama's purported high road is even less convincing when he complains that Obamacare "was easily subject to misinformation and fearmongering." More on that, from the winner of Politifact's 2013 "Lie of the Year":

[I]t is my fervent hope and the hope of millions that regardless of party, such courage is still possible, that today's members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth even when it contradicts party positions.

You know what? That was my hope, too, back in 2009. And 2010. And '11, '12, and '13, and '14, for that matter. In fact it is still my hope now, even given the President Donald Trump's unfamiliarity with health policy, relativistic approach toward the truth, and the fabulisms that AHCA supporters such as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) are making in the wake of its party-line passage.

I would find Barack Obama more believable about speaking truth to power if he volunteered more than just a stammering semi-acknowledgment of the whole "you can keep your doctor" whopper, and then went on to cover the sundry other Obamacare dishonesties, from gaming the Congressional Budget Office within an inch of its life, to claiming that increased preventative care would save money, to serially misportraying the Affordable Care Act as a victory over "special interests." And we will probably wait in vain for specific declamations of fearmongering from his own side. But I suppose hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, etc.

* Yeah I know that presidents' first such addresses are technically labeled "Speeches to a joint session of Congress," but they have become the same in every other respect, and we need a blanket term to cover both, so.

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  1. Wrong. So, so wrong. The lie of the year is obviously Grant Bisbee’s January column: The Angels are baseball’s sneakiest almost-maybe contending team.

    Don’t lie to the people, Mr. Bisbee.

    1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

      This is what I do.,.,.,.,.,..

  2. Democrats standing up to a Republican president takes courage? I would think that a Democrat agreeing with a Republican president or calling another Democrat on his BS would take a lot more courage.

    1. The word “courage” has been thrown around a lot lately. Maxine Waters, new darling of “The Resistance” is “courageous” and “putting her career on the line to oppose Trump”. Her district is like 75% Democrat. Not a single celebrity doing anything labeled as “courageous” recently has in fact done a single thing remotely courageous.

      1. Hey, it does take a lot of courage to persevere when you’re dealing with the kinds of debilitating mental impairments God gave Maxine Waters.

      2. Maxine Waters probably needs a long stay in a padded room.

    2. Assuming “courage” means “doing something that hurts your reelection chances”, I think you are right.

  3. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.

    Would that that were the justification for their residence in these corridors of power. How about in the midst of spending money that belongs to neither them nor the state they actually mustered the courage to follow the Oath of Office they took before their God and respect the Constitution?

    1. Insane, I say! Officer, arrest that dissenter!

  4. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.

    No, it doesn’t. This is perhaps the biggest whopper of Obama’s dubious career as a professional dissembler. In a civilization based on lauding altruism, it’s the easiest thing in the world to “champion” the vulnerable.

    1. it’s the easiest thing in the world to “champion” the vulnerable.

      Especially while throwing other people’s money at policies that demonstrably harm them.

    2. it’s the easiest thing in the world to “champion” the vulnerable.

      Indeed. Because the ‘championing’ typically involves using the vulnerable/poor/marginalized as an excuse and shield for self-interested policies.

      When people criticize said policies, the defense is to cry loudly on behalf of the ‘victims’ of this hateful oppression, accusing critics of denying them the justice they deserve.

      “”Why do you hate the Children /The Poor /The Brown People /The Refugees /The Disabled?? YOU PRIVILEGED SHIT”

      What is remarkable is that hardly anyone ever really asks the “Champions” to demonstrate how their nominally-charitable policies are actually supposed to ‘help’ the poor.

      see: Minimum wage increases, Soda-taxes, Climate change policies etc.

      Invariably the things proposed by so-called Champions make the lives of the already-poor poorer, and make rising out of poverty more difficult.

  5. > Say what you will about the tenets of Jeff Sessions, but at least he has an ethos

    Who gives a shit about the fucking marmot, Walter!

  6. “I am humbled by this evening and to be honored by a family that has given this country so much,”

    Mostly syphilis.

    1. Drinking those IPAs, huh?

  7. This is one the best summary I’ve seen of all the outright lies used to sell Obamacare:

    Yet the media is still going around believing every Democrat at face value.

    1. Unpossible. I’ve been told repeatedly that Reason loves Obama and supported everything he did.

      1. They love him more than Trump.

        Most of them voted for him, some of them voted for him twice.

        1. I just read the “who are you voting for” article from 2008 and it is quite funny and sad.
          There was a lot of “Fuck Bush and the Republicans, I don’t care how bad Obama is!”, similar to Trump voters today.
          There were also a lot of very prescient observations.

          1. If you look at the people who actually worked for Reason, nowhere close to most of them voted for Obama. And I think in 2008, one could be forgiven for thinking Obama might not be terrible. And Bob Barr was the Libertarian candidate.

  8. That quote is the greatest evidence that Obama was unfit to serve in high office. Choosing to fight your causes based on what type of person is behind the cause, rather than what is right is the antithesis of just governance. True courage is doing the right thing regardless of the unpoplarity of who benefits.

    Obama’s quite is more befiitting of a populist strongman than a humble servant of the people.

  9. “The assumption that those who would seek to revamp the Affordable Care Act are driven primarily by a desire to help the one percent get one percenter.”

    This is an assumption that left-wingers like Ross Douthat and Avik Roy have stated over and over again is correct. As Roy put it, “it’s curious that extending tax cuts was a higher priority for the House than addressing the fact that the bill will make insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans.”

    As a matter of fact, Matt, it’s still “curious”.

    1. You’re not familiar with Reason or reason or reading the goddamn article, are you, Anal Van-Man.

      1. Sorry, nothing in Matt’s article suggests that he believes that the desire to deliver a big tax cut to high-income people was a motivating factor in the passage of the bill. However, there is no doubt that it was a significant factor–though the biggest factors were 1) to give Se?or Donald a “win” and 2) to save Reince Preibus’ job. Avik Roy, who recently appeared at an (excellent) Reason forum on integration, has made the charge several times, as has shameless lefty Jon Chait. And so have I.

        1. Actually, the forum was on immigration. I meant to make a crack about Jeff Sessions’ “ethos”, which reminds me a lot of the ethos of Bull Connors, but forgot, and the word “integration” is the only indication of what was “really” on my mind.

        2. [U]nderstanding how he imagines that he’s doing good will help you prevent him from doing more bad.

          But assuming your opponents are always arguing in bad faith and then talking about yourself is fun too, i guess.

    2. Yep. Your side has principles, the other side has only avarice. Got it.

    3. I wonder if it has occurred to people like you that if Obama had put through “single-payer” (that cutesy dishonest euphemism for “government-run”) instead of the ACA then your healthcare decisions would now be in the hands of…Donald Trump.

      1. He does have experience giving pelvic exams, or so he claims.

    4. So the implication is that health insurance is currently affordable in that quote, right? Interesting claim.

  10. Good post, Welch. And I recommend reading Welch’s linked piece on “The Death of Obama’s Noble Lie” as a quick refresher on how we got here.

    1. Also, the one to which colorblindkid links above.

  11. I’m sure a lovely time was had by all.

    Jealousy’s not a good look on you, Matthew.

    1. Of all the pathologies embedded in that sentence, jealousy is not among them.

  12. Looking at the linked page from the JFK Library, I find it interesting that they don’t cite one courageous thing Obama ever did. They just say the sort of thing that is said at anybody’s funeral, even if nobody liked the deceased.

    1. He hopped out of a helicopter in the middle of the night in a dangerous land and blew Osama bin Laden’s head off. Jesus you people have short memories.

  13. Obama: “[blah, blah] z..speak the truth…[blah, blah]”


    Yeah, that concept progressives lecture everyone else about being a tool of the white patriarchy, or something. Seems like they have use for the concept when convenient to them.

    1. Progressives are not a monolith or a hive mind, you know.

      1. Yeah? Well you’re just a Republican who wants to smoke pot.

        1. Weird, i thought i was a Crusty/Chipper/Sparky sock puppet who wanted to do gay stuff with Barack Obama in Somalia.

          1. Whatever floats your boat, man.

            1. What my boat is and what various Internet randos have told me my boat is are very different things.

              1. Classic Rando.

    2. Well, you see, they have access to a special, higher truth that uplifts and ennobles. It’s completely different from your petty, self-serving “truth” that merely happens to coincide with observed facts.

    3. Really? Have you read the BLM platform? Because it says like 2 things about police accountability and then launches into the normal Marxist/Prog demand list.

  14. Every Obama Speech Ever:

    ‘Look, I’m able to see and accept my own flaws, so why can’t you? Of course, I don’t have any after long moments of introspection but I’ve noticed that you have a whole lot of them. Work on that. For America and the children.

    He uses false humility as a weapon, like pretty much every other leftist with a Martyr complex. Does he deploy it better? You decide. It’s usage is clear though and always has been.

    Good article Matt, it’s good that not all reporters swallow his double-speak hook, line, and sinker.

    1. I can’t believe I missed this bit:

      Say what you will about the tenets of Jeff Sessions, but at least he has an ethos…

      Excellent Big Lebowski quoting you have there Matt.

  15. Who cares if their intentions are evil if the outcomes are terrible? Am I supposed to give the big orange fart a pass because he wants the new healthcare law to be better, even though if he had any appreciation for facts whatsoever he’d understand why it won’t be?

    Also, thinking in right-wing memes is beneath even you, Welch. Since Trump is on the scene, Obama might as well be George Washington who never told a lie. Trump doesn’t get things right by accident. He can’t even fucking spell.

    1. Trump and Obama can both be terrible people who tell lies, Tony. The universe allows for that.

    2. Well, if the leftist retards who wanted the government to take over your healthcare hadn’t made that demand do you think Trump would have A) made any effort at making changes to that healthcare plan or B) been elected at all?

      See, the central brain damage that keeps the country going down the tubes are people demanding more and more centralization of authority in the Federal government but then complaining that it didn’t work out the way you wanted.

      Spoiler alert, it will literally never work out the way you want when you replace the rule of law with the capricious will of a dictator.

      Fucking idiot.

    3. Did you even read the article? He called the AHCA “crappy” and he criticized Trump.

      1. But he criticized Obama too! How is Tony’s pointy little head supposed to get around that lack of strict dualism?

      2. There weren’t enough pictures in the article for it to pass Tony’s comprehension threshold.

    4. It’s always rich when a leftist brings up intent. Their sense of smugness typically comes from the idea that their intentions are pure and the other side’s are not. If you disagree with a lefty, it has to be for one of two reasons: your IQ is below 70, or you just have no soul

  16. Aw, isn’t that sweet? President Choom gets another trophy for doing fuck-all. Thanks for nothing, you mendacious twat.


  17. If you like Obamacare, you can keep it.

  18. What Obama believes to be true and what is true may be different things. Obama believes that getting more people on medicaid is worth the damage the ACA did to the economy. I believe the damage to the economy cause more sickness, and death than the ACA helped. We will never know, because the effects are too complex. I blame the rise of the death rate on the effects of the Obama economy and the ACA. It is the first time in the history of the country the death rate rose outside of major war.

    1. But what about the war on terror and the war on drugs?

      1. or the war on poverty that has killed the motivation and drive of low-income Americans and enslaved them to the government plantation?

  19. “I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential.”

    When they’re increasingly labeled as the enemy of all that is good, pure, and honest, it does actually. Real political courage is not just standing up to powerful interests. It’s being able to stand in front of the average person and tell them they’re wrong.

  20. John Kennedy wouldn’t recognize the Democrat Party today. In fact, I think he would be ashamed of his daughter. The real Barack Obama is found in Star Spangled Sharia, a downloadable book on the Center for Security Policy website. He’s a damned fraud. He’s a damned fraud.

    1. JFK was a politician. He would pivot and accuse anyone who accused him of being less than progressive of hating poor people. Granted, he would do so eloquently, but he would still do it.

  21. Obamacare subject to lies and distortions? How could anyone say that? I guess everyone has forgotten Sarah Palin’s death panels that would have seen her “little son” die or perhaps they missed those ads where the brawny young man vowed to defend grandma from the limits on elder care or the fuss raised when doctors were to eb encouraged to discuss end of life treatments with their patients and their families. Of course, there was the never to be forgotten ” if you like your doctor, you can keep him or her but compared with the whoppers told by the opposition, that one doesn’t seem as terrible as it once did.

    Obamacare has been reported imploding since the law was passed and the sign-up rate is supposed to be declining Neither of these things proved true. Many people like their new health plan. Premiums have risen but the commercials about those poor people who can’t afford the premiums all turned out to be false. None of those people applied for the subsidies for which they were eligible. What is true is that the cost of medical care, as opposed to insurance, is no longer rising at multiples of the rate of inflation thanks to the safeguards and requirements put in place by the act and that more people than ever are insured.

  22. Good, you got that out of your system. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” was a promise, that fell apart, and was persisted with till it was a lie.

    Do you even want to start on the Drumpf lies. Let’s just restict it to the last month, and on the AHCA?

  23. Health care is not a right, it is a commodity. Period. Every speck of healthcare goods and services is the result of some persons

    labor. Any time there is a 3rd party payer, there is no incentive for the principles to restrain costs. Indeed, there is every

    incentive to spend flagrantly.
    These are some easy ways to cut costs, and increase quality of health care. The most important thing is to use free market forces to

    drive down the cost and drive up the quality of health care itself:

    1. Control the trial lawyers. Limit awards to actual damages with an additional 0-100% of that for ancillary factors unless the health

    care provider is convicted of a crime. Limit lawyers fees to 10% of the awards.
    2. Require all health care providers of goods and services to post their prices.
    3. Require all health care providers of goods and services to provide a written estimate.
    4. Health care providers of goods and services can set their own prices, but they must charge the same amount to all customers – with

    a write-down provision only for individuals.
    5. Create a before-tax health-care IRA into which you can deposit as much as you want at any time, but not to exceed $6,000 above the

    actual expenditures per year.
    6. Allow any individual to contribute tax-free dollars to anyone else’s HCIRA.

  24. 7. Make all employer health care to be of the form of contributions to employees HCIRA.
    8. HCIRAs can be used to pay for all medical expenses, including insurance premiums.
    9. Any error in billing will require the bill to be cut in half. 2+ errors in billing will negate the bill. This is applicable to the

    provider and/or insurer.
    10. Your HCIRA is heritable.
    11. Allow consumers to buy any insurance policy from any insurance company anywhere, paid from the HCIRA.
    12. Prohibit any health care providers of goods and services from disclosing consumers’ identifying information to the federal

    13. Allow insurers to write short-term negative-outcome insurance policies.
    14. Allow all kinds of medi-share and other such associations.

    These would take huge amounts of non-value added costs out of the health care industries.

  25. The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is given to only lefties and the token righties like John McCain who espouse lefty causes like Campaign Finance Reform.

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