In a refreshing change of pace, CNN's John King skeptically wondered on Tuesday's New Day about the White House touting the five million "enrollments" in ObamaCare: "They wanted to get the seven million by March 31 – unlikely they'll get there....How important are the next couple of weeks, and...if they get to six, can they spin that as a success, or is this baked in as a failure?"
King later pointed out that "even if they get some policy numbers that point them toward success – maybe not where they wanted to get, but close to that – can they change the political dynamic out in the country? Because if you go to these key states, it seems like ObamaCare is still a liability." Despite this, New Day anchor John Berman still trumpeted the five million figure: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Saturday morning, three Wall Street Journal reporters told readers that as President Obama was promoting Obamacare, there was internal debate between "policy advisers" and "political aides" as to whether the President's obviously unqualified and unconditional "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" statement, made roughly 20 times between his inauguration and the law's March 2010 passage, "was a promise they could keep."
"Policy advisers" didn't like it, but "political aides" prevailed, concluding that Obama's promise should remain dishonestly unconditional because "salability" and "simplification" were more "practical" and important than the truth. One particularly weak paragraph in the Journal report ends up reading like Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" riff (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a 66-paragraph masterpiece, Journal reporters Adam Entous, Janet Hook, and Carol Lee gave a behind-the-scenes look of how, "Through mixed messages, miscalculations, and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it." Among other things disclosed, "The same day [Secretary of State John] Kerry made his fateful remark" that Syria could simply give up its weapons to the international community, "the State Department sent Congress a memo detailing: 'Russian Obstruction of Actions on Syria.'" It really is a great exploration of the Keystone Kops nature of the Obama team's bungling of Syrian foreign policy. Here's a taste (emphasis mine):
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
On Tuesday morning’s Today show, NBC substitute anchor Lester Holt and correspondent Savannah Guthrie all but expressed regret over President-Elect Barack Obama having to make an “adjustment” -- not being able to “just pick up and go anytime he wants” due to “not just Secret Service, but a traveling corps of journalists now follows his every move, even in Hawaii.” Guthrie reported on the “signs Obama is growing a bit frustrated with all the attention.” The on-screen graphic accompanying her report inflated this apparent frustration on the part of future chief executive: “Man in a Bubble: Obama Chafes at Constant Scrutiny.”
Holt introduced Guthrie’s report with a lament over Obama’s seeming predicament: “He may not be president yet, but Barack Obama is getting an early taste of what life as leader of the free world is really like -- a lack of freedom, and an entourage documenting his every move.” Guthrie then began her report along a similar line: “Obama came here to Hawaii to get away from it all -- get one last vacation in before becoming president. But even here, he can’t just pick up and go anytime he wants, and that’s been quite an adjustment for the president-elect.”
Imagine if you will, President Bush or Gov. Sarah Palin saying the following in a sit down interview or a Sunday morning show appearance:
We had a crisis, we kicked it down the can.... These are – just taking those two examples, these are crises you can no longer afford to kick down the can.... The crisis we have here, the American people know we have one and they are ready and willing to start to tackle those problems. You cannot afford now to kick those down the can any longer.
Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann would have their share of guffaws at the gaffe. The Daily Show might use it as a "Moment of Zen" and other broadcast and print outlets would be sure to get their licks in.
Yet neither President George W. Bush nor the Alaska governor said those things. President-elect Barack Obama's chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel did, much to Politico's delight. Yet rather than heap scorn on Emanuel, reporter Carol Lee found the Illinois Democrat's "Rahmbonics" endearing, comparing them favorably to beloved baseball icon Yogi Berra's way with words: