Charles Krauthammer

When Republicans proposed requiring proof of citizenship, the Democrats twice voted that down in committee. Indeed, after Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" shout-out, the Senate Finance Committee revisited the language of its bill to prevent illegal immigrants from getting any federal benefits. Why would the Finance Committee fix a nonexistent problem?

(3) Obama said he would largely solve the insoluble cost problem of Obamacare by eliminating "hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud" from Medicare.

That's not a lie. That's not even deception. That's just an insult to our intelligence. Waste, fraud and abuse -- Meg Greenfield once called this phrase "the dread big three" -- as the all-purpose piggy bank for budget savings has been a joke since Jimmy Carter first used it in 1977.

Moreover, if half a trillion is waiting to be squeezed painlessly out of Medicare, why wait for health care reform? If, as Obama repeatedly insists, Medicare overspending is breaking the budget, why hasn't he gotten started on the painless billions in "waste and fraud" savings?

Obama doesn't lie. He merely elides, gliding from one dubious assertion to another. This has been the story throughout his whole health care crusade. Its original premise was that our current financial crisis was rooted in neglect of three things -- energy, education and health care. That transparent attempt to exploit Emanuel's Law -- a crisis is a terrible thing to waste -- failed for health care because no one is stupid enough to believe that the 2008 financial collapse was caused by a lack of universal health care.

So on to the next gambit: selling health care reform as a cure for the deficit. When that was exploded by the Congressional Budget Office's demonstration of staggering Obamacare deficits, Obama tried a new tack: selling his plan as revenue-neutral insurance reform -- until the revenue neutrality is exposed as phony future cuts and chimerical waste and fraud.

Obama doesn't lie. He implies, he misdirects, he misleads -- so fluidly and incessantly that he risks transmuting eloquence into mere slickness.

Slickness wasn't fatal to "Slick Willie" Clinton because he possessed a winning, near irresistible charm. Obama's persona is more cool, distant, imperial. The charming scoundrel can get away with endless deception; the righteous redeemer cannot.


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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