Riding Under The Bus

November 19, 2014

Obama_signs_health_care-20100323Last month, Jonathan Gruber was the go-to guy for the Obama Administration in defense of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known pejoratively as Obamacare. This week? Well, they never heard of him.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Democratic campaign guru and Obama defender-in-chief David Axelrod weighed in on the latest victim of the fickle political culture of Washington, DC: “let me say: if you looked up “stupid” in dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture.”

What brought Mr. Gruber such infamy? If you aren’t a regular imbiber of Fox News or conservative talk radio, you wouldn’t know. Because the major media have ignored or downplayed Mr. Gruber’s moment in the klieg lights.  But if you are a Fox regular, you would know that Jonathan Gruber committed the unpardonable sin of letting the cat out of the bag about Obamacare.

For years, conservatives have railed against this utterly destructive program as not merely the death knell of the American medical system, but one of the most pervasive and pernicious federal government power grabs in our history.

What flummoxed us most about this reckless legislation, among other things, was how so many of our fellow citizens seemed unbothered by the underhanded clandestine methods used by the Congressional Democrats to enact this catastrophe.

For years, we have been convinced that Obama and his minions were boldly lying to the American people, and constantly moving the goal posts on Obamacare. Every time the bad medicine of this legislation was served on a spoon for Americans to swallow near the time of an election, the pain was postponed long enough for the Democrats to gain victory.

Even in the face of the Republican wave of a few weeks ago, the White House was working to delay the impact of this most devastating of federal power grabs to shore up their candidates. Of course, this time it didn’t work, and the American people voted against Obama’s party in droves.

In the aftermath of the election, however, tapes of Mr. Gruber started to surface. The first few found Mr. Gruber belittling American voters and explaining the need to fool people, at least some of the time.

Confirming everything any critic of Obamacare ever suspected, Gruber stated that Obamacare was foisted on the nation through irregular budget processes and in the proverbial smoke-filled backrooms, because “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

At first, the White House and Democrats in Congress, abetted by their most loyal and effective friends in the mainstream media, ignored these newly discovered ruminations.

Indeed, the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, ventured that the views were old news and, in any event, had been subsequently recanted – though she could not point to one instance where Gruber reversed himself.  But the collected wit and wisdom of Gruber was not yet completely revealed.

As more embarrassing nuggets came spilling out, liberals were left in a tough predicament. Ignoring Gruber’s comments became more difficult by the hour and the scandal was building, not dissipating. So, the Obamites reverted to that old default political maneuver: they threw Mr. Gruber under the bus.

Now, instead of making excuses for Gruber, or claiming he was misquoted, the Democrats went on the attack. Gruber had nothing to do with Obamacare, we were told. He greatly exaggerated his involvement, they bleated. He’s not one of us, the nation was assured. We never really met the guy, they insisted.

The ritual heave under the political bus is a cherished tradition in Washington, DC. It is one of the mainstays of the politico playbook. And it’s bipartisan. It’s not just Obama and the Democrats who love to deny they knew someone, even when the record is glaringly clear that the opposite is the case.

I should know. When the lobbying scandal that bore my name broke in 2004, scores of politicians bent over backwards to explain they never met me. It got so bad, that I was quoted sarcastically in Vanity Fair saying that “you’re no one in this town [Washington] unless you don’t know me!”

President George W. Bush, never a close friend but certainly someone I had seen on scores of occasions, denied knowing me. My reaction to his awkward denials was part chuckle and part sigh.

Bush knew the names of my kids, and even asked one of my kids about the other’s homework assignments – something that child had discussed with the president several months before. That didn’t come from his staff. I was immensely impressed with his memory of that young child’s homework complaints. It was a real tribute to his keen political skills, or so I thought at the time. When I was being shoved under the bus, I was less impressed.

But, what did I expect? Bush was the leader of the free world. Was it really prudent for him to feed the media sharks circling the White House with tales of his time with good ‘ole Jack Abramoff? Of course not.

It’s not like I was in his office planning policy. Nor did I write his signature legislative achievement. So, conveniently forgetting having met me at a bunch of political events had no policy implication. In fact, since it had been a while since I was with him, it’s truly possible he didn’t recall our times together. Who knows?

One thing that is clear, however, is that Jonathan Gruber was far more important to Barack Obama’s White House than I was to George Bush’s, and this sudden amnesia and Stalin-like rewriting of his historical role just does not ring true. If George Bush was pilloried by the media when he claimed he didn’t have much to do with me, why are they giving Obama a pass when he denies the integral role of one of his key outside advisers on his most important legislative initiative?

This White House stuck this nation with a disastrous program that is destroying our health care system and it did so dishonestly. They lied by omission and commission. They used skullduggery and chicanery to navigate the politics so they could get what they wanted.  Their behavior was infamous and they deserve our disgust. I am sure the White House is aghast that their ill intent was revealed before they had a chance to spin, but that’s politics.

If the president was involved in these deceptions, he should resign. We all know he won’t be impeached, since Republican fear of that word is utterly disabling for the, so Mr. Obama need not fear proceedings in the Congress.

But, if the dishonesty revealed by Mr. Gruber’s imprudent comments was even close to accurate, Barack Obama will go down as the most dishonest and feckless president in our history, and he should leave office voluntarily.

Of course, no one would expect this president to admit that Gruber is anything more than a blowhard, and few if any Americans would conceive that a Democratic president would resign office. Bill Clinton long ago proved that only Republicans resign in the face of disgrace.

When he burst on the scene with the hope and change incantation, who would have thought that Barack Obama would one day need a dignity lesson from Richard Nixon?