Remember President Barack Obama's mother? Though the airwaves currently echo with his vow "If you like your plan . . ." I keep remembering Obama's account of his mother being denied coverage by her insurance company as she lay dying of cancer.
The moving and infuriating story was a staple on the 2008 campaign trail. His mother had insurance, he explained, but when she came down with cancer, her insurance company claimed her disease was a "pre-existing condition" and refused to pay for her treatment. In a debate with Sen. John McCain, Obama said: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."
There would be, if it had been true. But when New York Times reporter Janny Scott researched the issue for her biography of the president's mother, she discovered letters proving beyond doubt that Cigna never denied Stanley Ann Dunham coverage for her disease. The dispute was over a disability plan that would have paid some of her other expenses.
The White House did not deny Scott's account, but shrugged it off as something that had happened long ago. Not so long that it couldn't be milked one last time though, for a 2012 campaign film. In "The Road We've Traveled," the message remained unchanged -- a greedy insurance company had cut off Obama's mother at her moment of maximum vulnerability, and it cost Dunham her life.
If someone comes to you and asks for financial aid to cope with a family member who is gravely ill, and you comply, how are you going to feel when you learn there is no sick relative?
It's different in politics, explained Michael Cohen in the New York Daily News. The American people want too many contradictory things. "Seemingly, the only path to change is telling voters what they want to hear."
Doubtless that's what Obama tells himself to justify his deceptions. It's a form of "lying for justice." If your goals are noble enough, truth is an acceptable casualty.
Obama's propensity to lie is finally widely acknowledged, but it hasn't gone far enough. It isn't just that the pledge about keeping your plan was a noble lie -- the whole law is based upon lies.