Knowing the way our political press works, it's easy to predict that Barack Obama's presidency is just about over. Journalists will soon treat him as the lamest of lame ducks, and suggest nothing consequential will happen in the last two years of his presidency. Instead, they'll obsess over who will come next.
So the timing is perfect for Rolling Stone magazine to reassert itself as Obama's most shameless house organ. They've published a 4,000-word tribute by liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman insisting that "Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history."
The 2008 parade of flattery and flim-flam is over, and Krugman lamented the cable-news channels are clogged with "endless talk about a rudderless, stalled administration, maybe even about a failed presidency." For Krugman, everything begins and ends with Obamacare, that "landmark achievement" that is now succeeding beyond any original estimates. Pay no attention to the polls, he says. That's no measurement of Obama's legacy.
It's awfully hard not to see this and think of how delusional the left thought it was for Bush and his supporters to say his polls didn't matter, and his legacy would look better in the long run. How delusional does it look for Obama to be painted as a wildly successful president?
First, it's important to forget the reality that the American public has never favored Obamacare, even when Democrats originally shoved it through Congress, lying all the way about how it wouldn't show disrespect to Catholic and pro-life consciences. In mid-October, NBC News found it underwater (36 percent approve, 48 disapprove), and so did Fox News (39-53).
NPR anchor Robert Siegel lamented to Krugman that Obamacare should be popular, but isn't: "Obamacare -- health reform -- the biggest social benefit in decades, as you said, is actually more unpopular than the president is. Shouldn't a major benefit be welcomed by the public that it's been created to serve?"
Krugman not only proclaimed that Obamacare is a "major policy success story." In ABC and NPR interviews, he suggested Obama is a more successful, more transformational president than Ronald Reagan, because Reagan never shredded the welfare state and Social Security. Obama added another entitlement, so in Liberal Land, he deserves a spot on the socialist Mount Rushmore with FDR and LBJ.
Second, it's important to ignore the papers. On Oct. 18, Krugman's New York Times reported on Americans "unable to meet the deductible or the doctor." The story began with Patricia Wanderlich, an Obamacare policy holder after she suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, and has a second aneurysm worth monitoring. "But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Wanderlich, who works part-time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year's brain scan and hoping for the best."
Krugman has always been blind to such anecdotes. He infamously denounced the "myth" of health care access denied in the United Kingdom: "In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false."
New York Times pundits used to joke that the White House projected a fantasy opposed to the "reality-based community" in the media. When Paul Krugman declares across the media that Obama is already a more successful, transformational president than Reagan, he's certainly started a fantasy-based community.