FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The Strategy for Defending Obamacare: Misrepresentation and Diversion
Demonstrating for a fact that he does not read RedState, today the Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne advocates the strategy I warned against over the past couple of weeks and he also demonstrates why debating with the delusional and dishonest is an exercise in futility. In an op-ed titled The noise around Obamacare he outlines the problem for the Democrat party and his solution:
The ace political and baseball prognosticator Nate Silver titled his book about prediction and statistical mastery “The Signal and the Noise.” Rarely has it been more important to distinguish between the two than in the uproar over the launch of the Affordable Care Act.
As Silver put it, “The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.”
Opponents of Obamacare want government to let the market do what the market does. That’s why the program’s critics have not come up with a plausible alternative to covering the uninsured — and why many in their ranks have been trying to hack away at Medicare and Medicaid. Their overarching purpose is to get government out of the way. If the market generates vast inequalities, this must be because such inequalities maximize efficiency.
Thus, foes of the new health-care law aren’t against it because its Web site worked badly or because the president once said that everybody could keep their current policies when it turned out that some in the small individual insurance market got cancellation notices. For those trying to kill the law, such noise is designed to distract attention from what they really think, which is that we should let non-elderly Americans sink or swim in the insurance arrangements that existed before Obamacare.
This is why people like Dionne should never be allowed to play with matches.
Even taking into consideration that he is speaking to a liberal readership (along with those of us who read him to get insights into how the Mentally Deficient Left views the world), his thesis is a Michael Moore parody of the actual argument.
The truth is that we think Obamacare insinuates the federal government much too deeply into the lives of Americans. We think it is nothing short of incredible that the same people that created the dual monstrosities of Medicare and Medicaid would be allowed to design a healthcare system for the entire nation. We do believe that getting government out of the way but we don’t necessarily believe that getting government out of the way either creates inequalities or exacerbates existing inequalities. We don’t think life is AYSO soccer where score is not kept and everyone gets a trophy for showing up. We don’t believe that healthcare policy was in a Golden Age before Obamacare but we are very sure that the situation for virtually all Americans is measurably and observably worse today than it was before that law came into effect.
Here Dionne proffers his preferred way of introducing “noise” to overcome the “signal” we are sending.
But panic-induced changes would be the very worst response to the challenges the law faces now. Rather than offer politically convenient delays that could undercut the entire structure of the ACA’s insurance system, those who want more Americans to have health coverage (including Obama himself) need to keep steering the discussion away from the clamor and toward the mission — starting by simplifying and fixing the Web site.
It was a Republican senator from Indiana, Homer Capehart, who applied an old saw to the art of salesmanship. “If handed a lemon,” he said in 1944, “make lemonade out of it.” The administration has never adequately defended the law or explained why government will inevitably have to play a larger role in guaranteeing health insurance to all our citizens — as the public sector does in every other wealthy democracy.
Now, everyone is paying attention. The way to still the noise is to challenge opponents of Obamacare. Can they really make the case that the country would be better off without it? And what would they do instead?
In watching the way the Obamacare debate has shaped up over the past month I am reminded of the eulogy for retired Marine Corps Colonel Don Conroy by his son, the novelist Pat Conroy. Don Conroy was the real life version of the “Bull Meachum” character in the novel and movie, the Great Santini. In the eulogy, Pat Conroy asks his father about a particular strike mission he flew in the very early days of the Korean War (by the way, the eulogy is worth reading even if you aren’t familiar with the story).
Let me do it in his voice: “We didn’t even have a map of Korea. Not zip. We just headed toward the sound of artillery firing along the Naktong River. They told us to keep the North Koreans on their side of the Naktong. Air power hadn’t been a factor until we got there that day. I radioed to Bill Lundin I was his wingman. ‘There they are. Let’s go get’em.’ So we did.”
I was interviewing Dad so I asked, “how do you know you got them?”
“Easy,” The Great Santini said. “They were running – it’s a good sign when you see the enemy running.”
There was another good sign.
“What was that, Dad?”
“They were on fire.”
That’s how I see the situation today, Obamacare supporters are running and in a couple of months they will, metaphorically, be on fire as insurance policies across the nation are canceled for people holding employer provided insurance as well as those who have usually bought insurance in the individual market.
There are two dangers we face, and they reflect the two strategies Dionne proposes. First, is being lured into the quicksand of assuming responsibility for “fixing” this unfixable monstrosity (I wrote about this earlier in Obamacare and the Governing Trap). If we get involved in fixing part of Obamacare we take on equal responsibility for the whole thing. It was passed without consulting the GOP and without GOP votes. If they want to fix it, it should be fixed the same way. The second danger facing us is getting distracted by the sorry state of Healthcare.gov. Rest assured, even the dim bulbs in the Obama administration will eventually spend enough of your hard-earned money to fix a website. Even if the website had worked perfectly on day one it would not change the conservative critique of Obamacare and its anti-freedom goals (see Healthcare.gov: Beware the Shiny Object).
As sure as the night turns to day, we will hear cries from our own #VichyCaucus wailing that we can’t reasonably advocate repeal of Obamacare without our own super-duper one-size-fits-all federal government plan for making everyone healthy and happy without costing them any money.
We can’t let the noise of their demands for our alternatives and their breathless praises of the brilliance of Obama as the Healthcare.gov website slowly becomes functional distract us from our signal: Obamacare is wrong in design, wrong in concept, and the only solution is repeal. Then we can talk about what is wrong and how to fix it.