Can you believe this health care chaos? I mean, what a tremendous story. A charismatic president puts all his currency behind remodeling America’s health care system and, at this point, is getting his back pocket kicked.
A recent Rasmussen poll has 53% of Americans opposing the president’s health care vision; just 42% now support. Also, a whopping 44% of voters strongly oppose, while only 26% strongly support Obama-care.
In response, the president traveled to Portsmouth, New Hampshire this week for a town hall meeting in front of a largely friendly crowd. He then told the folks that the AARP supports his reform plan. About ten minutes later, the AARP issued a press release saying, uh, not so fast, Mr. President—we do not support any specific health care plan at this time. Asked about this later, Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president did not mean anything “untoward.” I believe the issue is untrue, not untoward, with all due respect.
Also in New Hampshire, an 11-year-old girl named Julia Hall asked this question: “I saw a lot of signs outside saying mean things about reforming health care. How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can help more of us?”
The president responded smoothly about bad health care “rumors” and why his plan is worthy. It all sounded great.
But then the Boston Globe reported that young Julia is the daughter of Kathleen Manning Hall, who ran the Massachusetts Women for Obama organization during the campaign. Uh-oh. Does the word “plant” come to mind?
Considering that President Obama has described some health care protesters as disingenuous ideologues, you would think the president’s team would avoid having disingenuous questioners at town hall meetings. You would think.
All of this points to one thing: There is a serious breakdown in Obama’s health care message. The White House is reeling under falling poll numbers and intense pubic displays of hostility. And the administration’s response to that? Well, this week Mr. Gibbs said this to Matt Lauer: “I think we all have something to lose, Matt, if we let cable television come to town hall meetings and kill health care reform for another year, and put the special interests back in charge.”
So to what “cable television” is Mr. Gibbs referring? CNN and MSNBC are largely supportive of the president. I don’t think Spike TV is in play here, so he must be slamming Fox News. Is that smart?
Since the town hall protests began, FNC’s ratings have soared because we cover the events fairly. We don’t mock the protesters or label them as subversive. We actually put both sides of the issue on display. I’ve invited Robert Gibbs on my program, but he has always declined.
The end game here is that the Obama administration is badly mishandling the health care debate. Attacking critics and planting favorable questions is not the remedy for fixing health care confusion. If there is a wise up pill available, the administration needs it fast.