Cynthia Tucker: Obama lied after GOP saboteurs left him no choice

Cynthia TuckerOf all the soft-cushion drubbings Barack Obama has taken at the hands of once (and future) cheerleaders, none is as silly as an op-ed by Cynthia Tucker at Tallahassee.com. The piece is titled “Obama will have to take his lumps,” but the context suggests Tucker is using the metaphor in the sense of “one lump or two?”

Her argument, if it can be rightly called that, might be encapsulated as “Sure, Obama lied, but only after those conniving Republicans sabotaged his undeniably excellent health care reform law, thereby forcing his hand.” The sabotage claim, which did not originate with Tucker, was neatly dismantled in a Best of the Web Today column by James Taranto, who points out:

The idea that Republicans have ‘sabotaged’ ObamaCare is ludicrous on its face. Sabotage entails destroying or damaging something by subverting It — by stealthily undermining it from within. Republican opposition to ObamaCare has been neither stealthy nor ‘within.’ Every Republican member of Congress has opposed ObamaCare consistently, openly and honorably.

But more curious still is this claim by Tucker:

Early on, the president was careful in his descriptions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Speaking to a joint session of Congress in 2009, he said, ‘If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.’ The veracity squad at Politifact rated that statement ‘true.’

But as Obamacare, as it is now widely known, picked up a dedicated and vociferous group of critics, the president grew careless. In countless speeches in the last three to four years, he dropped the nuances: ‘If you like the (health insurance) plan you have, you can keep it.’

First of all, the 2009 joint session of Congress address to which she refers took place in September. That was a good seven months after Obama conceded in a bipartisan health care reform summit that 8 to 9 million Americans would in fact lose coverage as a direct result of the law he was proposing. A video of him acknowledging as much has now been widely circulated among news sites.

Second, noting somewhat triumphally that “the veracity squad at Politifact rated that statement ‘true’” is akin to positing that McDonald’s french fries are the gold standard when it comes to pommes frites.

Third, and dopiest of all, is Tucker’s insinuation that Obama “grew careless” in the face of “a dedicated and vociferous group of critics.” She never explains the process by which that happened, mind you, but consider that every head of state has critics. If withering opposition to a president’s initiative is enough to lose his moral compass, what does that say about the leader?

As to Obama’s claim, there was nothing “nuanced” about it. Quite the contrary it was straightforward right down the final declaration of “period.”

Interestingly, Tucker does Obama to the woodshed in one paragraph, the second in which she admits:

Still, Obama deserves all the blame for the deception that may be the biggest threat to his signature achievement — and his legacy. He must have known better when he told Americans repeatedly that they could keep their insurance policies if they were happy with them. As countless policyholders have learned over the past few weeks, that’s simply not true.

How she manages to get from there to the 500-plus words of ineffectual blame-shifting piffle is what’s baffling.

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