Saturday, September 18, 2010

Someome Needs Better Optics

Caption: The 24-inch Clarke telescope at the Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, Arizona. Maybe our President and his new pals should get one of these so they can find out what the little people are doing.

Image credit: Cujo359

President Barack Obama was quoted as having said this Thursday night at an "event" in Connecticut:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particularly derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)

Mike Allen's Playbook: Sept. 17, 2010

Yes, I know who I am, jackass. I'm one of the many people in this country who can't afford to go to an "event" like this one, as described by the Hartford Courant:

The White House released the transcript of President Barack Obama's remarks at the home of Richard and Ellen Richman, who live in the exclusive Conyers Farm development in Greenwich's famed "back country'' neighborhood.

Conyers Farm is the 1,500-acre gated community where Republican Linda McMahon also lives. Her opponent, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, attended the dinner with the President at a 20-acre estate that was not far from McMahon's home.

President Obama's Remarks At Greenwich Fundraiser At Conyers Farm, Where GOP's Linda McMahon Lives

The Greenwich Time adds another little detail:

The location of the Democratic National Committee dinner with the president was the estate of Richard and Ellen Schapps Richman, Richard Richman runs The Richman Group of Companies, a Greenwich-based real estate, investment banking, construction, mortgage banking, and asset and property management conglomerate that touts itself on its website as one of the nation's 10 largest residential property owners. Ellen Schapps Richman is an active philanthropist and adjunct professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business, according to her biography on the United Way of Greenwich website.

Guests shelled out more than $30,000 per plate for the exclusive evening with the president.

Faces in the crowd at Conyers Farm Obama dinner

Isn't that special? The President goes to the home of one of the richest people in America, whose holdings include portions of the investment and financial industries that have distinguished themselves recently to the tune of $20 trillion in government-backed bailouts, to talk about how silly the little people can be.

Jane Hamsher makes the case that Obama's whiny outburst ignores the fact that he promised to do exactly what he did not do, provide what he called "a public option" to buy insurance from the government instead of from folks like Mr. Richman. Glenn Greenwald makes the case that the idea that Obama has done lots of wonderfully progressive stuff is, to put it charitably, utterly absurd. I've made the case that he's failed at plenty besides the health care reform issue, in lambasting his running mate. I'll save myself the trouble of doing that again.

There are a couple of points, though, that really bother me. First, Obama's remarks here completely ignore that almost none of us have complained merely because there wasn't a public option. We complained that the bill as passed simply made things worse for many Americans, and did nothing to fix the costs of health care. In short, it was not health care reform. And all that after a year long kabuki play that ended up with the very bill Obama negotiated in secret with the insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical care industries with no input from consumer groups.

Obama, in short, was talking utter nonsense. We aren't pouting because there's no public option like the one he based his health care proposal on during the Presidential campaign. We're angry because he managed to make things worse. That's not the thing that's most annoying about this, though. After all, he's lied about this all along. Why would he stop now?

Here's the part that's really annoying. Not only did Obama stoop to using a strawman version of the argument against the health care reform that he negotiated with the interests that were doing the most to make our health care as expensive and inaccessible as possible, and not only did he ignore his promise to provide the very thing he called us stupid for expecting, but he did it in front of people who paid $30,000 to hear him say this.

Sure, they got dinner with that, too, but face it - it probably wasn't substantially better than something you could pick up for $3.00 at your local grocery store's freezer section. That $30,000 is more than a lot of people in this country make in a year. No one earning minimum wage earns that much in a year, unless they're getting lots of overtime. Very few of the official sixteen-plus percent of the population who are currently either under- or unemployed are earning that much. Yet these people paid that much for a dinner and a lousy comedy act.

None of those people, either Obama or the people attending, have any worries about being able to afford health care if they can afford to shell out that kind of money. Yet the President and the smug rich folks in his audience think we're all kinds of stupid or childish for expecting that he would keep his promise to make things better, and not make them worse instead.

We're the ones dying at the rate of 25,000 or more a year thanks to a health care system that he resolutely refused to fix. Yet that condescending little jackass thinks it's funny we're unhappy with that fact.

There's a bit of slang political bloggers sometimes use, "optics", which means "how does this look?" In this case, I think the optics of a President joking about the foolishness of the people who needed his help and didn't get it being upset about that, in front of the people who have benefited the most from his actions the last couple of years, don't look all that good.

Even on a strictly political level, this has to rank among the stupidest things this man has done since taking office.

It's amazing to me that anyone still respects him.

UPDATE: Over at FireDogLake, diarist Niland comments on the high-risk pools that were set up by the health care "reform" bill:

I had high hopes for this, as my Mother is a 61 year old widow who has low income but is too young for Medicare and who we (my brother and I) have been paying $1,000+/mo for Anthem Blue Cross individual market insurance for the last three years to keep her insured. I thought the new high risk plan was going to be standardized with a 4-1 age ratio and also “affordable” for people who cannot get affordable coverage in the individual market. I looked up the rates for California where she lives, and her premium will be $799/mo with no subsidy under the new plan . Meanwhile, the premium for a child under 15 is $142/mo…how is that 4-1? How is that even remotely affordable?

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan — Out of Reach

If I had a dollar for every time some uninformed fool told me that I didn't know this stuff was going to be worthless, I'd be able to buy my insurance with the proceeds, and I could buy Niland's mother's, too. Not that it would do me any good, but given that their foolishness helped get us this piece of crap system, I'd much rather waste those jackasses' money than my own.

UPDATE (Sep. 22): I just noticed the typo in the article's title today. In my defense, I was away from the Internet for the past few days, or I might have picked up on it sooner. Anyway, the current spelling appeals to my sense of humor for some reason, so it stays as is.

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