Jonah Goldberg
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The most popular alibi is, "Yes, people are losing their plans, but they're getting better ones." The New York Times and the president have embraced this line. But even that isn't necessarily true.

Some people already know they don't think the new plans are better. In many cases, they're more expensive with higher deductibles and stiffer co-pays. Better for the consumer and better for bureaucrats or progressive social planners don't always mean the same thing.

Even if turns out to be true, as Obama insisted in Boston last week, that the majority of Americans will get better coverage than they had before, that's no rebuttal to the charge the president lied.

If a landlord promises you can keep your dog when you move into an apartment, but then after you sign the lease he takes your dog and replaces it with a stuffed one, he wasn't telling you the truth. The landlord's view that the new dog is better ("No mess! No noise!") is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether the landlord lied -- and it doesn't make you a fool for preferring your old dog, either.

It's good that liberal supporters of the law admit that what the president said wasn't true, even if they can't bring themselves to call the president a liar. But they might want to think a bit about the standard they are establishing.

Do they really want to say it's OK for presidents to lie if it is for a good cause? Surely, some presidential lies are painfully necessary. (Franklin Roosevelt lied quite a bit in the lead up to World War II.) But Obama's lies (including his promises that the Affordable Care Act would "bend the cost curve" down and that the average family would save $2,500 a year in health care costs) were in the service of partisan legislation that has never been popular.

Many liberals forgive Obama for his noble lie. I doubt they'd be as forgiving if a Republican president similarly lied to impose an unpopular partisan agenda.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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