The defining moment for the Presidency of Barack Obama came early, in June, 2009. It was one of many health reform extravaganzas to come, this one televised by ABC from the East Room of the White House, a town hall among health care experts and consumers.
Citizen Jane Sturm took the mic to ask how the brave, new world of Obamacare would treat people like her 105-year-old mother. At age 99 her mother's heart specialist confided that without a pacemaker he couldn't keep her alive, but at her advanced age he couldn't justify the operation. Jane sought out another specialist, and when he saw her mother was still very much alive and enjoying life, he agreed to do the operation.
Over five years later, her mother was still living happily with her family as a result of the highly advanced medical technology she received. So Jane, still displaying her own spirited fight for her mother's life, very articulately asked the President if under his vision for health care there would be any consideration given for a certain spirit, or joy of living, or quality of life, in providing medical care for those of advanced age. Or would there just be a cut-off at a certain age.
The President replied that we as a culture and a society have to learn to make better decisions about end-of-life care. And when the wise, central planning Washington bureaucrats discover the evidence shows the care is not going to improve health, they can let your doctor know, and let your mom know, maybe this is not going to help, maybe you're better off not having the surgery and taking the painkiller and going home.
Jane just told him that without the surgery her mother would be dead, and he responds with a hypothetical that maybe she would be better off taking the painkiller and going home. And President Obama's mind is so hypothetical and so theoretical that he is certain that far off Washington bureaucrats would know from the evidence when she should take the painkiller and go home, and could let her yahoo doctor know.
Moreover, from Jane's perspective, this was not an issue of end-of-life care. She just told him that after the surgery more than 5 years ago her mother was still very much alive and spirited. But those of us who have been paying attention have learned that President Obama is so certain that he has all the answers that he never really hears what anyone else is saying.