Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2013/ 29 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774
Obamacare fiasco proves president is no chess master
By Jonah Goldberg
Often in error but never in doubt,
And the amazing thing is that so many people believe it. "Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He's smart, deft, elegant and subtle," proclaimed then-
But the fiction of Obama as a man three steps ahead has taken a terrible beating if you have eyes to see it. The budget cuts under the so-called sequester are the law of the land because Obama thought he was outthinking his opponents when he gave budget-cutters budget cuts. Now he's stuck railing against his own idea. His allegedly revolutionary decision to turn his presidential campaign into a personal political organization independent from the
Or consider Obama's only clear-cut political victory since his re-election. Republican demands were a bit of a moving target, but basically the
But Obama wouldn't consider it. Instead, he played hardball with everything from national park closures to, temporarily at least, denying death benefits to military families. As the debt ceiling loomed, the
Or at least I did. There's something those of us scoring that bout didn't know: The president desperately, urgently and indisputably needed to delay the rollout of Obamacare.
This is not a matter open to fair-minded dispute, never mind partisan disagreement. Even the president and Secretary of Health and Human Services
If Obama were a chess master -- or even a fairly adept checkers novice -- he would have known that when you're not ready to do something incredibly important, it's best to buy time. He could have traded a delay (Three months? Six months?) for some major budget concessions, maybe even lifting the sequester. Perhaps his base wouldn't have liked it, but he could have easily spun the compromise as a necessity given how irrational and "extreme" the
Publicly he'd say he was paying a ransom to "kidnappers" and "hostage takers." He'd denounce Republicans for delaying precious insurance coverage for sick kids and frail oldsters just to score partisan and ideological points.
But privately, ah privately, the master strategist would be stroking his proverbial white cat -- or, in reality, his hypoallergenic black dog -- while breathing a sigh of relief that he bought himself some time to fix his woefully mangled healthcare reform.
Obviously he wouldn't want to delay Obamacare. But that decision was out of his hands due to his administration's incompetence. The only choice before him was whether he would get the blame for the delay or if the Republicans would.
Why Obama didn't do this and why it didn't occur to him are good questions. Hubris obviously played a role, as it does in nearly everything this
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