Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Won't President Obama Tell us the Truth about Keeping our Doctors?

Morality, truthfulness and personal integrity do not command the currency that they should or used to.  Truman’s phrase, ‘the buck stops here’ is of historical interest only.  Consider authors and journalists who admit to plagiarizing and then go on to resume their careers.  Resourceful students use modern technology to cheat on standardized tests.  Our government refuses to classify a military replacement of a government in Egypt as a coup d’etat.  Teachers strike for more money claiming that their only interest is their precious students.  Politicians deny that campaign contributions will confer any special influence by the donors. A parade of overachieving athletes over the years denies they have ingested any banned substances.  Our intelligence services are not spying on Americans.  Physicians order diagnostic tests claiming they are only for medical reasons.

Sometimes, the dishonesty is stealth while on other occasions it is transparent.  I suggest that the phrase ‘it has nothing to do with money’ signals that mendacity is just around the corner.

Reporter:  “You are suing Kellogg’s for $7 million dollars because your Rice Krispies didn’t crackle properly?”

Plaintiff:  “Yes, but this has nothing to do with money.  I’m doing this to send a message to Battle Creek and Big Business everywhere that our kids matter.”

Our then U.N Ambassador last year appeared on multiple Sunday morning news programs offering a Benghazi narrative that she knew or should have known was entirely false.  Her fate?  Promotion!
The leader of any organization sets the standard for conduct of the entire team.  If a boss plays it a little fast and loose, then those who report to him are likely to accommodate to his ‘relaxed’ style.  This is why police chiefs, school principals, spiritual leaders, coaches, department heads and editors play such critical roles.  When they set a high bar for themselves, they raise everyone’s standards.  The converse is also true.

The most important leader in the country is the President of the United States, who sets an example for over 300 million people.  Remember, when Jimmy Carter told us that he would never lie to us?  While he was honest, he wasn’t a successful president.  In 1940, FDR campaigned that “you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.”  Did he really believe this?    Must we choose between honest leaders and successful ones?

I am deeply troubled by President Obama’s false pledge that we could all keep our insurance plans and our doctors, when we now know that this is completely false.  I am not calling the president a liar, but I am stating that his promise was not the truth.  If he simply was misinformed or uninformed, which would demand an explanation, why doesn’t he simply admit to his error in the same manner that we counsel our children to come clean when they need to do so?  Instead, the president repeats the pledge but now makes it conditional on insurance company decisions, which is a different beast entirely.  Is duplicity and responsibility avoidance the standard he wants us to emulate?

An honest administration would admit that we were deeply misled and would accept the political cost of this admission.  Not only is this the proper course, but it is also the wiser one.  When they continue to fail to admit what we all know to be true, they only deepen the hole they are trying to crawl out of. 

The president offered a statement on Thursday which some described as an apology.  I don't.  Here's the statement:

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me."

You call that a mea culpa?  What happened to clear expressions of contrition, such as "I screwed up"?
The president added that "we weren't as clear as we needed to be.".  I disagree.  The president's repeated promise that we could all keep our doctors and insurance plans couldn't have been any clearer.  Indeed, it is this clarity that keeps the anger and frustration burning.

Which slogan is operative here?  The Buck Stops Here or The Spin Starts Here.


  1. You mentioned FDR's famous promise. I recommend you read Herbert Hoover's "Freedom Betrayed" and Harry Elmer Barnes' "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace." I have read these books cover-to-cover; they are difficult and boring at times, but overall well, well worth it. FDR did everything he could to get attacked at Pearl Harbor -- he knew what he was doing. He was a calculating, colossal liar and a communist sell-out (and a lot more.) I ask, if the American people can be completely duped regarding WW II (arguably the biggest event of the last century), do they really know the truth about anything? I doubt it. Obama is nothing new.

  2. I'll consider you 'on the fence' regarding FDR. Do you think it served us and humanity that we participated in WW II? Can presidents lead us to a war that serves our interest by being truthful?


    Look at the numbers. Obama may have generalized, but he did not lie.

  4. I state openly in the post, dg, that I am not calling the president a liar, although this is arguable as it seems clearer that he knew that many folks would not be able to to keep their plans and physicians. Assuming the president did not knowingly repeat a falsehood dozens of times, it it inarguable that the promised was 100% false. The president and others should have admitted this publicly, rather than have the president issue an anemic 'apology' in the 'mistakes were made' mode. CBS on 60 Minutes last night offered a much more contrite apology last eve regarding their Benghazi error, which serves as a better model of accepting personal responsibility. Some felt that 60 minutes still fell short on the mea culpa, but I was satisfied.

  5. Dr Kirsch, in answer to your question, no, I don't think we should have gotten involved in WW II. Yes, Hitler was bad, real bad -- no argument there. But we crushed Japan and Nazi Germany, at a great cost to ourselves, only to leave Stalin and Mao supremely triumphant (and then obligate ourselves to 50 years of expensive cold-war containment. China is still communist.) I agree with Hoover that we should have let Stalin and Hitler annihilate themselves, while arming ourselves to the teeth on the sidelines (Hoover publicly took that position in summer of 1941.) The great majority of Americans wanted to stay out of WW I and II -- that was the traditional American position, articulated by all of our founding fathers: stay out of foreign wars, especially European ones. December 7, 1941 made that traditional position a distant memory. We have been monkeying around the world ever since, and doing ourselves no favors in the process.
    (Since you don't like "anonymous", I will assume the name "Radical Libertarian Surgeon" for the purposes of your website.)

  6. To the pseudo-anonymous commenter above, appreciate your honesty. Have you considered what the world may have endured, and could still be suffering, had Hitler and his allies prevailed? The cost of our involvement was enormous. This must be balanced, of course, against the cost of standing aside.

  7. Nobody can conclusively prove what would have happened if USA was 100% neutral in WW II (or if Britain and France had stayed out of the war also.) If all 3 had stayed out, likely Hitler would have overrun most of Eastern Europe and then he would have attacked USSR (and who knows what would have happened then.)
    If USA alone had stayed neutral (i.e. Hoover's June 1941 position), the ultimate unknown again would have been the Hitler-Stalin slugfest. I would bet on a draw, with Hitler keeping much of the Ukraine. (Recall 1812.)
    FDR of course intervened, and left nothing to chance. We ended up getting 50 years of Communism instead of 50 (++/-- ??) years of Hitlerism. I don't think FDR was acting for moral or patriotic or pragmatic reasons; rather I believe that he was a front man for a group of global power brokers.
    We didn't need to intervene in the Napoleonic wars or in the Franco-Prussian war. We didn't need to intervene in WW I. And I think Hoover was right about letting Stalin and Hitler destroy themselves, while we armed ourselves to the teeth and stayed neutral.
    (the radical libertarian surgeon)