Pat Buchanan
"Nothing is lost save honor."

So said Jim Fisk after he and Jay Gould survived yet another scrape in their corrupt and storied careers in the Gilded Age.

Fisk's dismissal of honor came to mind while watching Barack Obama in Boston smugly explain how his vow -- "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it!" -- was now inoperative.

All along, it had been a bait-and-switch by the first hustler.

In Boston, Obama could no longer evade the truth. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who had purchased health insurance in the private market were getting notices their plans were being canceled.

That this revelation had blown a hole in his credibility did not seem to trouble Obama. Indeed, the president appeared impatient with the complaints. These were "substandard" plans anyhow, he said, the lousy offerings of "bad-apple insurers."

"So if you're getting one of those letters (canceling your insurance plan), just shop around in the new marketplace. ... You're going to get a better deal."

Behind the arrogance is the realty: Obama has the veto power. No alteration of Obamacare, except for changes he approves, can be made before the winter of 2017. And by then, Obamacare will be so deeply embedded in law and practice it will be beyond repeal.

We won, you lost, was written across Obama's face.

Yet, Obama's victory calls to mind that of King Pyrrhus of Epirus over the Romans at Asculum as described by Plutarch. Counting up his dead friends, dead commanders and dead soldiers, the king remarked, "Once more such victory and we are undone."

The price Obama will be a long time paying for this victory is historic and huge.

First, there is the irreversible damage to his credibility and integrity. He conned the people into believing something he knew to be false -- that all Americans would be allowed to keep the health care plans that they had and liked.

This assurance, repeated again and again, helped disarm the opposition. Americans who liked their doctors and insurance plans and were repeatedly told they could keep both were not only relieved; they became more receptive to the idea of helping the less fortunate.

Obama's assurances of keeping your insurance plan if you like it now enters presidential history alongside George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips! No new taxes," Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss. Lewinsky," and George W. Bush's tales of yellow cake in Niger and hidden arsenals of WMDs.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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