In selling the health-care plan that bears his name, President Obama has, according to the fact-checking website Politifact, said at least 34 times that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That statement was not completely true, and it’s a lie that is today causing the President no end of political headaches.
Still, before we fully castigate the President for his rhetorical flights of fancy, it’s important to keep in mind that Obama was — to a large degree — telling Americans what they wanted to hear. In fact, he was giving them the type of comforting assurances they insist upon getting before backing any major policy change from Washington…
These competing impulses breed the pervasive dysfunction in American politics today. Democrats play down the negative effects of government actions; Republicans describe them in the worst possible terms. Voters want progress without sacrifice or inconvenience. Seemingly the only path to change is telling voters what they want to hear.
So accuse Obama of lying about health-care reform — but understand the simple underlying reality: we can’t handle the truth.