The last moments of President Obama's press conference last week have gotten the most attention, and some of the president's supporters have wondered whether his big-footed interference in the Cambridge professor's melodrama has overshadowed Obama's push for health care reform.
But the president's response to Gatesgate actually sheds a lot of light on his approach to health care and other issues, for this reason: Obama adopts his positions before knowing what he is talking about. To be fair, Obama admitted as much, at least as far as Gates was concerned. "I don't know all the facts," he acknowledged, before launching into a lecture (later retracted) about the "stupidity" of the Cambridge police (while misrepresenting what had happened).
How could he not have known all the facts? Press secretary Robert Gibbs mentioned on Fox News Sunday that the Gates matter was one of the issues the White House press operation had briefed the president on before the press conference. Numerous accounts of the imbroglio were available online -- though the president need only pick up the phone to get all the information he wants.
He didn't want information. He preferred his comfortable, prejudiced view.
This is worth bearing in mind as the country takes a good, hard look at the president's plans for health care reform. On the day he announced support for embryonic stem cell research, Mr. Obama also signed an executive memorandum declaring that in the Obama administration, "we (will) make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology." And yet, his health care proposals -- or rather the congressional ideas he has endorsed -- seem to skirt facts and evidence at every turn.
We are told, for example, that America needs a "public option" for health insurance to "keep the insurance companies honest." How would that work? Would it be the same as keeping Ford honest by having the government own GM? In both cases, private companies who must make a profit and pay their expenses will be forced to compete with public entities not subject to market discipline.