There should be a red label attached to the Presidency that reads like a list of side effects at the end of a prescription drug commercial: Warning! Occupant likely to be remembered by the most embarrassing thing he or she says while in office. If Bill Clinton had realized that his most memorable line would not be something like “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” but instead “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski,” it might have made no difference. At least he would have been warned. Would Richard Nixon have said “I am not a crook” if it had occurred to him that these words would all but be carved on his tombstone?
It took a while, but “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” has probably become affixed as Barack Obama’s scarlet sound bite. The New York Times says that the President “misspoke” when he say that, which is in itself a lie. To misspeak is to accidently use the wrong words and end up saying something you didn’t intend to say. If Bill Clinton had actually meant to say “I did have sex relations with that woman…”, then he misspoke. Of course, Mr. Clinton didn’t misspeak. He lied through his teeth.
It’s hard not to think the same thing about Mr. Obama. Here is what he actually said:
If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.
He used the same strikingly unambiguous language on several other occasions, both before and after he signed the Affordable Care Act into law. In the quote above “period,” repeated twice, and “no matter what” are the kind of words you use when you want it understood that you mean precisely what you say.
What he said was precisely false. Because of ObamaCare, a lot of Americans have already lost their insurance plans and many will soon be forced to turn to different doctors. It is clear that the Administration knew this before Mr. Obama said the opposite. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the President’s policy advisors objected to the language above but his political aides overruled them. The White House not only put politics above honesty but also above the long term interests of the President’s signature legislative achievement.
The President told a big fat lie. However, one cannot be certain that he knew it was a lie, even if his staff did. After all, when the Justice Department delivered weapons to Mexican drug lords, neither he nor the Attorney General knew anything about it. He didn’t know that Al Qaeda was flying its black flags in the streets of Benghazi in the days before our ambassador was murdered or that Ambassador Stevens had requested more security. The President learned that his Justice Department seized the records of the Associated Press when the rest of us read it in the newspapers. He had no idea that the IRS was targeting conservative groups or that the National Security Agency was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. So if own his words were manifestly fraudulent, well, how would he know?
But surely he knows now. Yet he said this only yesterday:
Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.
I am not sure who “we” is, but this is not what the President said or what he meant to say. He has shot past lying to lying about lying.