"The Odd Couple" sitcom, which featured slob sportswriter Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) sharing a New York City apartment with overbearing neatnik Felix Ungar (Tony Randall), rarely fell short in delivering funny lines, but one in particular has stayed with me in the decades since the show aired.
Felix was lecturing Oscar, as he so often did, that what he was doing -- smoking cigars, eating junk food, playing late-night poker with his buddies, whatever -- was unhealthy. "Oscar, you know that's not good for you." Oscar's response? "When I look back on the best times in my life, none of them were good for me." (Audio after the jump)
Felix Ungar got the last laugh, though. Someone very much like him was elected president in 2008, and then inexplicably re-elected last year. Worse still, we live in a country full of Felix Ungars who remain hypervigilant about what's "not good" for you and me, at least as they see it.
One of the many Felixes who've taken to dictating how the rest of us should live appeared on Ed Schultz's radio show Nov. 1 to defend Obamacare, as just about every Felix in the land now spends the better part of his or her waking hours. To his credit, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, allowed that President Obama "probably misspoke" or "overstated his case" in that repeated, emphatic lie that Obamacare would not bump anyone from the health plan and doctors they wanted to keep (audio) --
SCHULTZ: Well, I don't think the president misspoke. I mean, I think, you know, they passed a law that brought standards into the industry that's only going to make it better for the people who have the insurance that they had and I ...
CORN (interrupting): No, no, no, I get it and I understand, you know, I get the policy issue here. The issue was that there were a lot of plans out there that were completely crap plans, that you thought you were insured but you really weren't insured and no hospitalization and that these are the plans that they said, you can't do this anymore to people, you can't do this. And so those are the plans that are being canceled. But nevertheless, you know, people out there buy things that are bad for them! They buy, you know, doughnuts! Too many doughnuts and things like that. And if the president had just been a little more clear and said, listen, Obamacare is going to get rid of the crappy plans, if you're victimized by one now you're going to have to make a choice and pick a new one, uh, that would have been a lot easier. I mean, you know, people often don't, people often buy things that aren't best for them and they still want to hang onto it because they think they've done the right thing even if they really haven't.
SCHULTZ: So what is, what is ...
CORN: People like lousy plans, that's the problem!
First they came for your health insurance. Next they're coming for your morning pastry. Time to dump that stock in Dunkin' Donuts if you haven't already. Give liberals a little power and they'll stage manage your life, all in the guise of "helping," and justified by their boundless good intentions.
You know what Obama actually should have said to be "a little more clear" -- if you like your health plan, even if others belittle it as "junk insurance," we're not going to let you keep it. This would have been much "more clear" -- and also consigned him to a single term. That's why he went with the Big Lie instead.
Ronald Reagan used to joke that the "nine most terrifying words" in the language were these -- I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Under Obama, it's been refined -- we're from the government and only we know what's best for you.