People are Rushing to See What's There

Posted: Oct 22, 2013 12:01 AM

President Obama, Oct. 21, addressing Obamacare's website failures:

But I ask: Isn't that how we got to this point of a nation and its government immobilized over a program opposed by -- according to CNN's Oct. 20 poll -- 53 percent of Americans?

It brings to mind then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's famed argument for whipping Obamacare through the House with zero Republican backing.

All together now: "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it!"

What is it with these people who can't quite bring Obamacare to the point that it works with the joy and efficiency imputed to it through years of supposed preparation? Why, at this point, all the technological foul-ups, the confusion galore as different systems attempt conversation, the surprises galore as would-be enrollees find their expected costs far higher than expected?

"We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a Website," the President said Monday in the Rose Garden. "That's not what this was about."

In a real sense, though, it was. The Website -- which outside experts call badly planned and executed -- was to symbolize the expertise of the federal government in sorting out the most complex of public problems: that of finding the right health care and paying for it.

Liberals like Obama tend to assume the government's expertise in all matters. They view the government as entirely unlike that supposed hit-and-miss enterprise, the marketplace, where supposedly the rich get what they want, then celebrate by splashing mud on homeless pencil salesmen. Liberal theory holds that "experts" in the employ of government can oversee and anticipate everything needed by everybody. The government is never wrong; the government never misjudges, never makes mistakes.

Not ordinary mistakes, that is. The government's sheer size and power render its mistakes colossal. As with Obamacare, from at least some of whose perplexities congressional Republicans might have delivered the White House, but for the White House's scandalized reaction to the idea that anything could be wrong with this prize orchid. "Anything"? What if it's more like everything?

Website problems can be assuaged and fixed over time; whether they can be fixed fast enough to affect the number of necessary sign-ups is another matter. The larger matter is whether Ms. Pelosi and large-hearted Democratic colleagues in both houses had the slightest notion what they were doing when it came to defining what 300 million-plus Americans need in the way of health care -- and, not least, how to pay for it. It once sounded like good politics. Good politics and good policy, it always turns out, live across town in different neighborhoods.

President Obama and his perfervid followers, inside and outside Congress, generally consider themselves populists -- men and women of "the people." How come, if that's so, the polls reflect strong popular dislike of Obamacare? Is it that these poor people's minds have been taken over by Republican aliens? Is it that the government populists just aren't done explaining why Obamacare is so wonderful?

The answer must be that the people have more in them than their overseers in the government can suspect. They might, for instance, sense that a major project like Obamacare, which has been long touted and long expected, doesn't work from the get-go, then it may have larger problems than anyone foretold. Fifty-three percent oppose Obamacare? Why, it sounds like what Ted Cruz has been suggesting.

Doubting the prospects of Obamacare is not the same thing as saying, boy, was that Cruz feller right -- and why didn't we defund that %$!# thing when we had the chance? The moral certainty -- from different perspectives -- that Cruz and Obama display almost on command has its pitfalls. The big, sweeping, hand-tooled, large-bore solution from the right is brother to the big, sweeping, etc., etc., solution from the left.

Some people were born to tell others how to live. You have to watch them with special concern once they move into the White House.

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