The white flag is flying over Camp Obama, which makes a pleasant change from the red flag that, metaphorically speaking, has been flying there since January 20. Barack Obama’s plan for socialised health care on the Stalinist model across the United States is now in full retreat. Not only will it not play in Peoria, it will not play anywhere.
Politicians returning to Washington after scrubbing off the tar and feathers acquired at town-hall meetings are bringing with them a blast of reality that has been absent from Obama’s dreamland regime since his inauguration. For months Obama had been trumpeting the indispensable nature of his “public option” in a new health care system. Suddenly, it is no big deal. Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, is now telling Americans that taxpayer-funded insurance was “not the essential element”.
So, President Pantywaist is in full retreat; but he is desperate for some face-saving measure to pretend he has achieved revolutionary reform. The Senate should not oblige. Obama has no interest in genuine health care reform: as a Senator he voted against all the moderate, achievable measures that were proposed. So far as he was concerned, the worse things got for 48 million uninsured Americans the better: it might persuade them to buy into his socialist scheme, the primary objective of which was not relief of suffering but expansion of Big Government.
Now that is in tatters. Politically, it is interesting to analyse why. Obama has no notion of cautious, consensual reform: he wants a Union of Soviet States of America and he wants it now. A realist would have taken up the existing reform proposals, perhaps radicalised them a little, and tried to take them forward. Above all, he would not have alienated the pro-life lobby by rolling abortion into the plan. But not Obama. He brings to the White House the abilities and experience of a Chicago community organiser. As Sarah Palin witheringly said: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organiser’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”
President Pantywaist has been found out and it will get worse. The one glimmer of realism he displayed was when he recently told an audience in Montana that, with regard to health care, he was “not in favour of the British system”. Perhaps he had just seen the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics revealing that more than 30,000 people have died in England and Wales from hospital infections in just five years. Translated proportionately into American demographics, that would be 150,000 fatalities. Not the best advertisement for socialised health care.
There will be many more U-turns as reality overtakes Obama. His economic recovery plan, which cost nearly $1 trillion dollars and masked 9,000 pork barrels, has removed his halo for even quite gullible voters. This will be a one-term presidency.