1. Pre-Summit Sabotage. Obama sabotaged himself before the summit even began. When he suddenly announced an extremely partisan plan -- much further left than what the Republicans and Democrats had already been arguing over -- he guaranteed the negotiations would go nowhere. The intent was to excite his base. But a funny thing happened on the way to rally. . .
First, the Republicans very intelligently kept their cards to themselves. They attacked Obama’s proposal, but they didn’t offer their own proposal. This gave the media nothing to attack. With the only story being a discussion of Obama’s proposal, which the media couldn’t discuss without angering the public, the only story left was that this summit would be a waste of time because the Republicans would never agree. This, in turn, alerted the otherwise-blind left that Obama’s proposal was nothing more than posturing. Thus, the target audience, leftist activists, just shrugged this off.
2. The Great Underestimator. If there is one thing Obama has shown consistently, it is that he has no ability to judge how others will react. From the Chinese to the Hondurans to the Republicans to the Tea Party public, Obama has never once managed to grasp that people would disagree with him. And, consequently, he’s never once managed prepare himself to deal with resistance. In this case, he misread the Republican position from the get go and he had no idea how to deal with a Republican Party that had no intention of (a) looking obstructionist and (b) playing the role of whipping boy.
3. Obama The Unprepared. When the Republicans showed up prepared to lay out their case against Obamacare, it quickly became clear that Obama was overmatched. Despite spending a year dealing with the health care issue that he started, it was obvious that he has no grasp of the facts.
For example, when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis), who has been a heavy thinker on health care, pointed out that:
Obama had no response. . . nothing. Ryan also compared this plan to Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. His presentation is well worth watching. Not coincidentally, Republicans are repeating his points all over television now.• “The bill has 10 years of tax increases, about half a trillion dollars, with 10 years of Medicare cuts, about half a trillion dollars, to pay for six years of spending. . . [and has a] true 10-year cost [of] $2.3 trillion."
• “The bill takes $52 billion in higher Social Security tax revenues and counts them as offsets. But that's really reserved for Social Security. So either we're double-counting them or we don't intend on paying those Social Security benefits.”
• “The Chief Actuary of Medicare [testified] that as much as 20% of Medicare providers will either go out of business or have to stop seeing Medicare beneficiaries [if this bill passes.]”
When Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va) tried to discuss the 2,400 page Democratic bill, Obama could only respond by calling it a prop and incredibly implying that this bill was a roadblock: “[Bringing that bill], these are the kinds of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation.” Nancy Pelosi must be spinning in her grave.
These are not the responses of a man who grasps the facts. These are the responses of a man who assumed he could wing it.
Even his winged-Democratic monkeys were unprepared. Indeed, reading the transcript of the meeting, I found little evidence that they were present. And when they did speak, they seemed to think that telling stories of individuals who suffered without health insurance would carry the day. But this meeting wasn’t about whether to reform the system, it was about how to reform the system. Thus, they had nothing of value to add.
4. Obama The Bad Sport. If there is one thing Americans do not like, it is a bad sport. . . and that was Obama. He whined about props, he tried to pass the buck, and, worst of all, he announced himself above the rules: “I’m the President, the time I speak doesn’t count.” (paraphrase). Do not underestimate how poorly such statements play to the public. These are the moments people remember from the likes of Richard Nixon and others who have declared themselves above the law.
5. Obama Doesn’t “Get It”. Obama has given the Democrats six weeks to gather the votes they need for reconciliation. How stupid is this? Unbelievably stupid. It is impossible to see the polls and not to understand that Obama/Pelosi/Reidcare is deeply, deeply unpopular in the country. Their attempts to pass this plan cost the Democrats Ted Kennedy’s seat, and they’ve endangered perhaps 80% of sitting Democrats.
So what should Obama do? There are proven political strategies for dealing with such resistance. But the one thing you never do is to keep picking at the scab. You don’t keep bringing the issue up day after day, dragging it out right into election season. All that does is keep the issue fresh, and the public upset and angry. Moreover, this creates a no-win situation. If you pass it, the public hates you. If you fail, then you’re a loser and you’ve roused the public’s suspicion for trying. The best strategy is to find a quick substitute, pass it, and declare victory. But Obama has unwisely chosen to prolong the pain another six weeks and then watch it fail.
And fail it will. I have always maintained that they can’t get this through the House, and I still see nothing that has changed my mind. Indeed, there are already quotes coming from House members about wanting a second chance to vote NO on this turkey to save their political careers: "People who voted YES would love a second bite at the apple to vote NO this time, because they went home and got an unpleasant experience. On the other hand, I don't know anybody who voted NO who regrets it," said Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Penn).
Plus, take a gander at this math. Pelosi passed PelosiCare with 220 votes (she needed 217). The sole Republican YES is now a NO. One Democratic YES died, and two others have resigned. That reduces the YES camp to 216. . . one short. Not to mention they never solved the abortion, illegal alien, funding or lack-of-public-option problems.
6. Finally, to borrow a quote from former Arizona Cardinal’s Coach Dennis Green: “Obama is who we thought he was.” At least, he’s the guy I thought he was. During the election when the left was drinking Kool-Aid and having messianic visions, and the right was terrifying itself about Saul Alinsky’s corpse, I took a look at Obama himself and I realized that I’d seen him before. . . I’d seen him in so many unaccomplished young attorneys who had no idea what they didn’t know and didn’t have the sense to shut up and learn: arrogance and ignorance is a deadly combination.
What tipped me off was Obama’s contention that he could solve any problem if only he was given the chance to meet with the other side, combined with his inability to tell you exactly how he planned to it. In his mind, his powers of persuasion are all the preparation he needs. Then China flipped him the bird. . . and the Republicans. . . and the Hondurans. . . and the Iranians. . . and the Russian. But each of these involved meetings we never got to see. Now we got to watch Obama’s silver tongue in action, and it showed exactly what I expected -- a man who knows nothing about persuasion, a man who has no idea how much work it takes to conduct a successful negotiation, a man who is neither articulate nor likeable, a man who doesn’t understand how little he knows or that everyone else in the room is on to him.
And that grasshopper, is why you failed.