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Skating on barely true ice

December 31, 2009 - Jim Anderson
I suppose now is as good a time as any to wipe the egg off my face.

I’ve been blasting Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., for claiming that the Democrats added the public option into health care reform after the 2008 presidential campaign.

Citing what I thought were rock-solid references (Obama’s campaign platform) to disprove the senator, I questioned whether he could still list Earth as his home.

But now this:

“I didn’t campaign on a public option.”

That’s what, ahem, Barack Obama told the Washington Post in a Dec. 22 interview.

I’m so sorry, Sen. Lieberman?

PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, rates Obama’s statement to the Post as true. Sort of. They say it’s “barely true.”

“We were able to find the (public option) proposal pretty quickly after looking in Obama’s campaign literature, but he didn’t discuss it very much during the campaign,” Politifact concluded. “That’s true for both the general election and the Democratic primary.”

The integrity of Obama’s statement depends, I suppose, on how you define “campaign.”

Columnist Ezra Klein of the Washington Post finds Obama’s statement “impossible to defend.”

“For one thing, it was in his campaign plan, which is to say, he campaigned on it,” Klein writes.

Klein does concede the White House’s argument that a public option wasn’t emphasized in speeches.

“But speaking as someone who did a lot of reporting on their health-care plan, they emphasized it privately quite a bit,” he continues. “It was, in fact, their answer to a lot of the other flaws in their proposal. So whether Obama used it in his speeches, his campaign purposefully pushed it to, at the least, some reporters, which is to say they worked to ensure that people knew about the public option’s important role in their health-care thinking.”

Klein calls Obama’s latest statement “hair-splitting at best and misleading at worst.” It is, he says, a good example of why the left is losing its trust in Obama.

Syndicated columnist David Sirota recently compiled a list of the Top 10 quotations of the past decade. This is not a “best” list. It’s a worst list that exposes “a nation that has internalized and accepted the forces of avarice, corruption, dishonesty, incompetence and insensitivity.”

No. 2 on Sirota’s list:

“I didn’t campaign on the public option.” - President Obama on Dec. 22, 2009, expecting the public to forget that his presidential campaign platform explicitly promised to pass health care legislation giving all Americans “the opportunity to enroll in a new public plan.”

Given the competition of the past decade (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the flying-saucer Heene family), it’s impressive that Obama could bounce in at No. 2.

As for that egg ...

Meet me for breakfast on Mars, Sen. Lieberman?


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