Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Don't bother reading his lips

'Linda Douglass, communications director for the administration’s health-reform efforts, says, “There are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now,” then points on-screen to the Drudge link.

“There are people out there with a computer and a lot of free time, and they take a phrase here and there. They simply cherry-pick and put it together and make it sound like he’s saying something he didn’t really say,” she says.'

I think its a mistake for the White House to counter any criticism about any policy by saying "Barack said this rather than that". Even the trusting, not-paying-very-good-attention centre of American politics has started to grasp a large truth about Obama: it doesn't really matter to Barack Obama what he says. His words are endlessly elastic, being used to hide his intentions rather than reveal them.

Ms Douglass is 100% right about what Barack Obama is saying. He keeps repeating the mantra "You will be able to keep your current insurance if you like it, nothing will change unless you want it to". But she is occupying a mental space from eight or nine months ago, when it was sufficient to simply say 'Barack Obama said X' and all the millions of Obama supporters would believe that his words constituted a concrete commitment to X. But many mainstream voters have Moved On since then.

There have been many broken commitments, lies and cynical backtrackings since the inauguration. For many of the moderate voters who took Obama at his words when he took on hundreds of moderate views for the last three months or so of his campaign, the reality of Barack Obama has been a bucket of iced water to the face. Which Obama do we believe, they ask themselves? The one in 2003 who stated very very honestly and clearly to an AFL-CIO meeting his commitment to a single-payer socialised medicine that would have to be introduced slowly so the frog didn't jump out of the saucepan. Or the Obama who states that nothing will change at all hardly, and the people who are saying all those stupid things are just haters. Or the Obama who is at this very moment presiding over a bill which will change the US healthcare system irrevocably and lead inexorably to the single payer system.

In short, read my lips has been trumped by watch my hands.

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