Friday, December 11, 2009
Barack Obama wasn’t ready to be president, and he better figure out what he’s doing before it’s too late
Hillary Was Right
by Reihan Salam | December 11, 2009 | 12:36am
As the first year of the Obama era draws to a close, the president is losing the battle for America's hearts and minds. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for him, given the disastrous state of the economy when he took office and the many smoldering international crises that keep flaring up. President Obama's predecessors deserve plenty of blame for his woes—as Obama and his advisers never tire of reminding us. But their not-so-subtle digs at President George W. Bush paper over their own unforced errors.
The most glaring and consequential unforced error came in how the Obama administration framed the health-care reform debate. The mantra of "bending the cost curve" was tailor-made for conservative and moderate intellectuals who preach the gospel of entitlement reform. If passing health-care reform were fundamentally about winning over the think tanks, the green-eyeshade approach might have made sense. But of course the real goal was to overcome the fear of the large majority of Americans who are insured and who deeply, desperately, and sometimes irrationally oppose anything that would change the status quo. A large number of those Americans are elderly Medicare recipients, and they vote in large numbers.