An amazing thing happened yesterday. Former President Bill Clinton called the Affordable Health Care Act – known widely as “Obamacare” – crazy. In fact, he named it, “the craziest thing in the world.”
The former president said Obamacare was crazy because it has imposed an unbearable burden on middle class Americans who were working “60 hours a week” to pay for it to succeed, a burden that has punished them financially.
It’s not the first time Mr. Clinton has savaged the piece of legislation that the current president, Mr. Obama, considers the signature act of his presidency and his legacy, and which Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary, has vowed to perpetuate.
You can hear or read the former president’s exact words here:
To be fair, Mr. Clinton did not advocate for a complete turn away from universal health care, though he did not advocate a strict staying with it either. He did suggest that at least in the respect he described, Obamacare was a failure that needed urgent attention for a remedy.
The bottom line, however, is that “affordable” health care isn’t affordable for everyone. A huge chunk of hardworking Americans, the mainstream of this country, is being punished to make it work. The reason that is so is because huge corporations were granted an inexpensive out from the system, which many have taken, and the 25 million persons now allegedly covered by Obama’s plan put absolutely nothing into it.
Pundits and people alike are struggling to reconcile Mr. Clinton’s denunciation of Obamacare and his wife’s angry, dogmatic support of it. Some explanations have been proposed, and we will review them and add a possibility.
It’s not just that Mr. Clinton disagrees with his wife; it’s that he has more than once disagreed with her on this issue. So there has been time for Hillary’s campaign to school Mr. Clinton on what he can and cannot say. Hillary has said her husband will be a major source of counsel and management in her administration, perhaps her chief advisor. So she knows and has known exactly where he stands.
So what’s up with Mr. Clinton’s denunciation of Obamacare?
Some are explaining it as Bill out of control, in discord with his wife and with Mr. Obama, the latter with whom he shares no lost love. His stunning frankness reveals at the least his intention to influence his wife away from the system constructed by Obamacare, perhaps completely away from universal health care at least as embodied in the existing legislation. Mr. Clinton, who was willing to deal with Republicans to help create a solvent administration that eventually created a financial surplus, wants to see his wife replace the affordable health care act with something different that keeps alive the ideal of universal health care but through pragmatic legislation that would reject Obama’s financially destructive act.
A toned down version of that explanation suggests that Mr. Clinton is signaling to Republicans that Hillary will compromise on the affordable health care act, something she cannot say during her campaign, while signaling faithful Democrats that she will never relinquish the ideal of universal health care. In this scenario, the affordable health care would be modified – significantly – but some sections would be left intact. This also provides a give-and-take with Republicans. In exchange, Hillary will want something else, and she will expect the Republicans to give it to her. For the time being, Mr. Clinton may have to walk back or appear to walk back his comments, but the long term signal is clear: Hillary will deal where Obama wouldn’t. It’s her own version of Trump’s “nothing is sacred, nothing is off the table” without her declaring such.
This is both good and bad for the American people, if it is true. The achievement of ideological and policy objectives requires either overwhelming support or compromise. In this day of polarization, compromise will usually fit the bill. Things will get done, and that alone would be a vast improvement over the Obama administration.
Compromise also reveals, however, the underlying reality of an establishment class divided into two factions who wield power for their enrichment and satisfaction. The give-and-take is for them, and only collaterally, if at all, serves the public in the sense that the public must be kept mollified just enough to go along with their decisions and to remain blind and deaf to what is really going on. It’s a kind of “Shove this bottle of formula in your mouth while mommy and daddy decide what we are doing” philosophy of governance. The baby consumes the formula and falls asleep. Mommy and daddy shovel the baby into the crib in a room upstairs at the back of the house. Mommy and daddy party wildly with the other mommies and daddies downstairs.
In a democracy, each and every citizen is a mommy or daddy. No one should lord over them. However, our system is not set up that way any more, from the limited two parties to the donor class who can pump fistfuls and suitcases of dollars into shaping policy and buying the allegiance of lawmakers. Our democracy is failing us, and too many of us cannot see it.
A third explanation is simply that Mr. Clinton, much older now (70), is speaking with the frankness of age. He’s looked at Obamacare and he doesn’t like it. Mr. Clinton believes it’s a bad policy that doesn’t work, even though his wife may have no desire to make anything but minor tweaks to it. He doesn’t reflect her or her campaign’s thinking at all but, in spite of his prevarications about his sexual conduct, just wants to give his straight observations to his fellow Americans. That neither makes him conservative nor denies his liberality, nor does it mean he stands against universal health care. He just thinks the Obamacare legislation was the wrong tool to get it done, and he’s not going to fudge it for his wife, perhaps much to her chagrin.
This explanation, too, has merit. Mr. Clinton, the politician par excellence, has shown signs of weariness along the campaign trail. He wants people to know what he’s thinking, and even he has his times where he cannot tolerate the BS. Mr. Clinton desires policies that work as much as policies that achieve his objectives. He does not believe the two are incompatible, and he is genuinely shocked at the machinery of the Obamacare legislation, which punishes a large segment of hardworking American citizens.
This looms as a key difference between Mr. Clinton and his wife.
Like Mr. Obama, Hillary stands out as an ideologue first and foremost who pulls and twists reality to conform to her ideology and its desired outcomes. Mr. Clinton is a liberal idealist but a pragmatist, too. He works to achieve his liberal objectives within the shape of reality.
Understand that neither the terms “ideologue” nor “liberal idealist but a pragmatist, too” are intended to imply that either Hillary or Mr. Clinton always act in accordance with their meanings. There are times when all of us wax ideological or pragmatic regardless of the category into which we generally fall. Many times other categories prevail in our reflection and decision-making. Thoughts and emotions swirl within a complexity we don’t always understand, at least not right away.
Generally speaking, however, Hillary and Mr. Clinton can be understood in the manner described.
A fourth explanation lies in the dishonesty and pridefulness that blemishes Hillary’s character. Hillary has marked her career by support for policies she varnishes with the rhetoric of “fighting for women” or “fighting for the middle class” or possession of a “fitness” or “temperament” for office or a “resumé of experience” that will bring stability and security and prosperity to American citizens. Yet she, and perhaps her husband, too, mock those who support her, precisely because she knows they are accepting her faux reasoning.
Remember when Hillary was asked whether she wiped her private server of government emails or ordered that her server be wiped? Do you remember what she said and how she said it?
“What, like, with a cloth or something?”
You can surf to YouTube and query “hillary wiped server with cloth”, and you will find a multitude of videos to choose from, including videos from Bloomberg and CNN, enemies of Trump and supporters of Clinton.
“What, like, with a cloth or something?”
The profundity of significance in her faux question does not even lie with its dissembling, although that is an element of the profundity. Rather, it lies with the attitude that gave birth to the dissembling, the notion that she could look reasonably intelligent reporters in the eye and American viewers in the eye and mock them by saying something she knew was disingenuous and something she knew was a flimsy cover for the fact that she did have her server wiped!
That attitude of mockery persists in every defect of her performance as a professional politician. That’s why she lied about sending and receiving classified material on her private server, in violation of the law and the protocols that governed the management of classified material. She already knew she would not be prosecuted. She is saying, “I can do what I want, and you won’t touch me, and I am still going to govern this country and run your lives. I am going to lie to you, make it obvious, and provide an explanation you will be only too willing to accept because I have taken – and you have given me – influence over your minds.”
Hillary Clinton is living proof of Neal Stephenson’s concept of mindshare and the ability of collectives (in his book, In the Beginning Was the Command Line, collective or collectivist corporations) to establish and grow a toehold in people’s minds to the point where people accept and defend that corporate view willingly.
Hillary is not alone. Many other elitist practitioners of mindshare exist on all sides of the ideological spectrum. Indeed, she has drawn endorsements and support from many of them. But the strength of her arrogance and her snobbery elevates her even among other elitist practitioners. Yet her supporters do not, perhaps cannot, because of their intellectual abdication, see it or act on it.
So when Mr. Clinton spits on the features and working of Obamacare, and Hillary allows him to, it is a part of her psychology, of her pattern of gamesmanship: letting Americans know what she really is and yet convincing them to pull the lever for her and her wasteful policies anyway. That’s why she screamed with all the affectation of indignation, “What difference does it make!?” during a senate hearing.
Please, examine carefully what she said. Her reply to the question of obtaining timely information to make a decision about what to do in Benghazi was to say:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and to do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
First, please note that Hillary was asked to respond to a question about why she didn’t pick up the phone, call the ambassador in Benghazi or others there, to find out exactly what was happening. She avoided answering at first. Afterward, she said she didn’t want to interfere with the process and uttered her notorious “what difference does it make” line.
Second, Hillary was asking about an event over which she had authority and management. She was not someone “outside of the process”. As secretary of state, other than the president, she was the chief part of the process. She, of her own choice, became an aloof outsider to the process with fatal consequences.
Third, Hillary tosses in an axiom about what should be done from this point on to obscure her accountability for what should have been done before the murders by terrorists occurred at Benghazi. Sure, she should figure out what happened, since she didn’t know beforehand, so death can be prevented in the future; that does not exclude the requirement that it was her job to figure out what was going on, either before it went down or as it was going down, to prevent the unnecessary deaths of our four fellow Americans in the first place. That’s why she received classified diplomatic and intelligence information that she illicitly stored on her server.
This is a huge point. Every western country with an embassy or consulate in Benghazi pulled out its people. They pulled out their people because they knew an attack was coming. They knew who it was coming from, too. The only person and the only government in the western world that maintained a diplomatic presence in Benghazi in spite of overwhelming evidence and information that that presence was in peril was the government that spun around the Obama-Hillary axis, the United States.
It’s unfortunate to have to say it, but Hillary has no shame. She then further torqued the whole Benghazi tale and flatly lied to the faces of the relative-survivors of the four Americans murdered about why they had been murdered: Libyans were protesting an anti-Muslim film. Then she lied to everyone else about what she had said to the relatives of the murdered! A mountain of lies!
One cannot exaggerate the immensity and offensiveness of the personal lie Hillary told to the surviving relatives of the Americans murdered in Benghazi. It’s offensiveness is bloated to the greatest, most expansive proportions. And It’s impossible to exaggerate the immensity and the baldfacedness of the lie that an anti-Muslim movie generated the murderous riot in Benghazi. Playing on the guilt some Americans feel about their natural aversion to Islam and its tenets of violence and its prophets of violence, she blamed the murders of four Americans on America and Americans. Americans are anti-Islamic and thus anti-diversity and anti-compassion and so we made a film that ridiculed Mohammed and Islam (thought we had free speech) and WE brought death to our own people. It’s a terrorist’s, and a murderer’s, dream: “I murdered you because you caused me to murder you. It’s your own fault!”
Mindshare. Hillary has captured it from her supporters, well-meaning but terribly misled and intellectually abused supporters. You may not think or believe or even entertain anything ill about Islam or Islamics, but you may think, believe, and entertain anything ill about yourself and your country.
That’s the tie-in with Mr. Clinton’s stunningly frank disembowelment of Obamacare. Hillary is laughing at you, because she and Obama took an ideal, twisted it into an unworkable policy, got you to accept it (got Congress to accept it without even reading it!). She’s telling you, through herself or her husband, that she is feeding you fecal matter and getting you to eat it anyway. She’s telling you, signaling to you, that she is lying to you, and then employing the simplest, most indignant, and most intellectually subversive excuses to protest the truth of her lies, and finally laughing at you when she obtains your acceptance, if not your agreement!
Sophistication and truth are not the same thing.
That has been her victory. That is the contest she really wants to win. Winning the presidency is simply the crown to her pathology of egomania and prevarication.
As much as any shame that accrues to her, we the voters are full of shame if we accept her and elect her.