- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

KEEP FEAR ALIVE

“On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama promised to end the ‘politics of fear and cynicism.’ Yet he is now trying to sell his health care proposals on fear,” Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“At his news conference last week, he said ‘Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage or lose their job. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction.’

“A Fox News Poll from last week shows that 84 percent of Americans who have health insurance are happy with their coverage. And because 91 percent of all Americans have insurance, that means that 76 percent of all Americans will be concerned about anything that threatens their current coverage. By a 2-1 margin, according to the Fox poll, Americans want coverage from a private provider rather than the government.

“Facing numbers like these, Mr. Obama is dropping his high-minded rhetoric and instead trying to scare voters. During last weeks news conference, for example, he said that doctors routinely perform unnecessary tonsillectomies on children simply to fatten their wallets. All that was missing was the suggestion that the operations were conducted without anesthesia.

“This is not a healthy way to wage a policy debate. It also risks making the president look desperate at a time when his proposals are looking increasingly too expensive for Americans to accept.”

FLAWED STRATEGY

“Legislative proposals don’t suffer massive heart attacks, but health care reform experienced some serious chest pains over the past couple of weeks,” Gary Andres writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Part of the diagnosis for President Obama’s signature policy initiative is straightforward: the transition from feel-good slogans to specific plans always increases public controversy,” Mr. Andres said.

“But a less-obvious explanation also contributes to the measure’s sagging support: President Obama himself. His constant drumbeat that failure to act now will produce catastrophic results is more indicative of presidential hubris than sound legislative strategy.

“The White House believes its ‘all in’ approach of high-visibility speeches, media appearances and town hall meetings is the way to win. In reality it’s contributing to health care’s dropping popularity.

“The Kaiser Foundation confirmed the big chill several days ago: ‘But with health reform moving from the abstract to concrete legislative proposals, criticisms made during the policy debate appear to be having an impact on the public and several indicators have softened somewhat from earlier this year,’ Kaiser wrote. Their tracking surveys showed an increased share of the public worried that a bill will be bad for their family. And, the percentages saying health care reform will ‘make things worse for their own family’ or that the country would be ‘worse off’ if the legislation passed, although relatively small, have also doubled since February.

“Other national polls - such as Gallup and Rasmussen - show similar shifts in opinion. But Obama exacerbates these problems by creating a needless tone of crisis and urgency around the timetable for legislative action. Meeting deadlines like passage by the August recess shows ‘momentum,’ they argue. But that’s an inside-the-Beltway mentality and no one outside Washington understands it. In reality, it does the opposite - throwing gas on smoldering skepticism.”

GREEN GODS

“A colleague sent me an Internet photo of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s home in Bethesda, Md. It’s hysterical. The global warming warrior who urged the nation’s young people to march on Washington for the right to pay a carbon tax doesn’t live in a house. He lives on a campus,” Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley writes.

“The 11,000-square-foot sprawling complex sits on 7.5 acres and replaced a perfectly fine, smaller home that was torn down to make room for his palace. No need for the kids to march on the Mall. The writer could fit them all into his swimming pool,” Mr. Finley said.

“And yet Friedman is not the biggest global warming hypocrite. That would be Al Gore. The former vice president began the greenwashing of America, urging its citizens to find harmony with the Earth by living smaller, less ostentatious existences. He meant you, not him. Gore’s 9,000-square-foot, $2 million mansion in Nashville is slightly smaller than Friedman’s. But he makes up for it with a 100-foot houseboat.

“Gore calls the lake-liner ‘Bio-Solar One,’ so no one will miss the fact that it’s outfitted with the latest energy-saving technology. Even with all its twisty light bulbs, I have to believe Gore’s aircraft carrier consumes significantly more fuel than the entire fleet of bass boats it’s swamping down there in Tennessee.

“I also bet I could keep driving my pickup truck the rest of my days and 100,000 miles into the hereafter and not leave as large a mark on the planet as Friedman or Gore. Or as Madonna, who, the Times of London noted when she showed up in England for a Live Earth concert, has a carbon footprint 100 times larger than the average Brit.

“I’m not criticizing these eco-hypocrites for their lavish lifestyles. I celebrate them. If I had their money, I’d see their carbon excess and raise it by a couple hundred tons.

“My point is that even for these environmental purists, human nature trumps nature worship. The more money people have, the greater their temptation to buy more and bigger things.

“And it’s why the green gods know so well that the only way to keep me and you from mimicking their offenses is to make sure we don’t accumulate too much money. Money really is the root of all evil from an environmentalist’s point of view.”

OBAMA DONOR

“ABCs newly hired senior medical editor is also an Obama donor, having contributed $400 to the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008,” the Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock writes at www.mrc.org.

“TV Newser reported on Thursday that Dr. Richard Besser, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, would assume the position in September. A search on the campaign watchdog Web site Open Secrets finds two donations by Dr. Besser on August 22, 2008,” Mr. Whitlock said.

“As senior health correspondent, Dr. Besser can be expected to play a major role in ABC’s coverage of the health care debate this fall.

Dr. Tim Johnson, who currently holds the position for ABC, has long been an advocate for government-run solutions to the health care problem in America.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@ washingtontimes.com.

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