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Events, Not Politics, in Control

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Two items in the news this week highlighted a reality that politicians hate to admit. While they pretend to lead the nation, they are not in charge.

The first event, of course, was the attack on Paris. The horror and shock has dominated the public dialogue from the moment it took place. It changed everything, from the focus of the Democratic debate to reactions and profile photos on Facebook as people tried to express their sympathy and solidarity.


The second event slipped more quietly under the radar. The largest health insurance company announced that it might stop offering services on Obamacare's health care exchanges. Why? Because they can't afford to keep losing so much money.

In a news release aimed at the financial markets, United Healthcare reported that "growth expectations for individual exchange participation have tempered industry wide, cooperatives have failed, and market data has signaled higher risks and more difficulties." Not only that, "our own claims experience has deteriorated." The bottom line is that the company estimates losses of $425 million from servicing the exchanges. At the same time, the rest of its business is doing fine.

Both events have implications far larger than mere politics. A Reuters headline says the Paris attack shows that the Islamic State is now an existential threat to Western Civilization. The French see it as an "act of war." A British General says "that we need to approach this issue of Muslim extremism as we might approach World War Two back in the 1930s." Prior to recent events, British and French leaders had downplayed the rhetoric of a War on Terror. Not anymore.


These changing attitudes directly challenge the foreign policy narrative that President Obama wanted to promote. His promise to end existing wars played a big role in helping him win the White House, and the last thing he wants to talk about is a new, larger war opening up. Whether he likes it or not, though, events are in control. There is skepticism even from Democratic governors about his plan to continue accepting Syrian refugees as if nothing had changed.

As for the financial news from United Healthcare, it comes on top of a report from the New York Times that high deductibles have made their "Health Law Insurance All But Useless." The Times has consistently been a prime cheerleader for the law, while having a strong editorial preference for Democrats. When they begin to raise doubts about the president's health care law, you know things must be bad.

Another recent release showed that customer satisfaction with health insurance companies is the lowest it's been in at least a decade. In fact, it's one of the five worst industries measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. So much for the faith once expressed by Congressional Democrats that people would learn to love Obamacare!


While the issues involved with both terrorism and health care are far more important than politics, the fall-out will have an impact on the 2016 elections. So far, it looks like events are unfolding in a manner that will hurt the Democrats. But no matter who wins the White House next year, real world events, not politicians, will be in charge.

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