Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Better Question?

The boys at Power Line note this question asked of the President at the Town Hall meeting he arranged to attend in New Hampshire today:

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've been quoted over the years when you were a senator, and perhaps even before then, that you were essentially a supporter of a universal plan.

I'm beginning to see that you're changing that. Do you honestly believe that? Because that is my concern. I'm on Medicare, but I still worry that if we go to a public option, period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing, because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.

So my question is, do you still as a -- yourself now support a universal plan or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?
A question which broaches one of the main areas of contention between Obama and the critics of his health care agenda. But way too vague and factually inaccurate and with a softball pitch ending fat enough to allow an old pro debater like Obama to turn on it and hit it out of the park (deep into the left field seats). The question becomes nothing more than an opportunity for Obama to offer pedantic lecturing and reiterate the obfuscations about what he would really like to see as a health care system in this country and what his reforms might lead to.

The one big chance the public gets to pin Obama down on where he stands and the question is blown. What a break for the administration. You get a "random question" from an "average citizen" and it's bad enough to allow you to come out looking like a free thinking, free market hero. Who needs political operatives and media spin machines when you have luck like this on your side?

If the hands of fate had pushed me into that Town Hall meeting instead and I was randomly chosen to ask the question in a way that would achieve greater clarity on Obama's position, it might have gone something like this:

Mr. President, in 2003, you were videotaped at a speech for the AFL-CIO unambiguously stating that you were a "proponent of a single payer health care plan." In 2008, during a Democrat Presidential primary election debate, when your opponents confronted you with this, you stated you did not support creating such a system in the US now because it would create too many problems in transition from the current employer sponsored system. But, if you had to start a health care plan from scratch, you would go with a single payer system. You repeated this contention, your preference for a single-payer system if you were starting from scratch, at other campaign events.

My question to you is, all things being equal, why do you prefer a system of socialized medicine over the traditional American system?

Follow-up question, if you truly believe a single payer system is superior, are you for or against incrementally achieving one over time, in a manner that could reduce the transition complications?

At which point I would be shouted down as a paid plant from a villainous health insurance company, called un-American and a Nazi just out to hurt our precious President, reported as fishy to flag@whitehouse.gov, and finally cold-cocked by a union goon in the parking lot.

Maybe it's a good those hands of fate didn't and on my shoulders after all.

But it is a shame that a better question wasn't asked of Obama. It's even more a shame that we get one chance to ask it from a random citizen, despite the fact a professional press corps is paid to follow the guy around 24 hours a day.

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