Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

No 'Sister Souljah' moment for Obama at healthcare town hall

It must have been music to the president's ears, a spontaneous crowd rendition of "Yes We Can!" from the crowd of 1,800 at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire. "I remember that," he said with what sounded like a mixture of nostalgia and rue.

For the rest, President Obama's foray into the turmoil that has roiled town hall meetings across the country was a disappointment.

Outside the hall, protesters were loud and insistent. On a church lawn overlooking the high school, they toted signs that said "Hands Off My Healthcare," "Obamacare, It's to Die For," and "Obamacare, Down the Chute Granny."

But inside, questions were, well, polite. With his poll numbers slipping and public skepticism about healthcare reform growing, White House aides had hoped Obama would get a nasty question, like those that have greeted members of Congress on the issue. A tough question would have allowed the president to knock down some of the fears about his healthcare plan -- much as Bill Clinton did in calming voter fears that he was too liberal to be president by distancing himself from hip-hop artist Sister Souljah in 1992.

So, without a good pitch to hit, the president took batting practice -- setting up his own pitches and knocking down some of the myths that have stirred up fear.

On death care: The rumor about "death panels," Obama said, got started because of an amendment in the House bill -- authored by a Republican -- that would have allowed seniors to get Medicare reimbursement for consultations with doctors about end-of-life care like hospice and living wills. They are spreading a rumor, he said, that we want to "pull the plug on Grandma because we decided it's too expensive to let her live anymore."

"I am not in favor of that," Obama said, adding that the underlying argument -- rationing of care -- is at the core of opposition to healthcare reform, a fear that "some bureaucrat ... some bean counter" will decide whether a patient can get a test or procedure.

"I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your healthcare decisions except you and your doctor," he said. "I don't think government bureaucrats should be meddling. But I also don't think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling."

On costs and taxes: "I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt," he said, belittling Republican critics in Congress who "say with a straight face that we've got to be fiscally responsible" when they supported the cost-heavy prescription drug bill enacted by the Bush administration. Noting that "paying for it is not simple," Obama argued that insurance companies are getting $177 billion a year in overpayments from Medicare that can serve as an important down payment on reform.

On the public option: There's "nothing inevitable" about a government-funded program forcing out private insurers as long as it's self-sustaining, Obama said, adding, "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the post office that's always having problems."

Finally, on the last question, a man from Derry, N.H., seemed to get Obama's goat when he asked about the new White House website and email address -- flag@whitehouse.gov -- that invites Americans to flag any misinformation circulating on the Internet on healthcare.

Calling it "another example of the media distorting" things, Obama said there is no intention to collect "an enemy's list," only to correct the record. "Come on guys," he said, "we're trying to be responsive to the questions being raised."

Obama has two more town hall appearances this week: On Friday, he does a town hall in Bozeman, Mont., and on Saturday he holds one in Grand Junction, Colo.

Maybe somebody will rail.

-- Johanna Neuman

Click here to get Twitter alerts on new Ticket items as they happen. Or follow us @latimestot

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

The comments to this entry are closed.

It does not matter what President Obama says today because tomorrow he can say he did not say it and the mesmerized population and media will fall for it. The Constitution that has protected the media will go down on this media's watch. What a cowardly bunch of so- called "intellectuals". Half of them can not spell as well as me and I did not recieve a degree.

People say they want government health care but lets look at what the gov already runs

SCHOOLS
underfunded, the kids are getting dumber and dumber, and what kind of school does obama send his kids to?
a socratic "guardian class" school JUST LIKE DADDY
and they are ALMOST as smart as kids who are homeschooled

STANDING ARMIES
Our soldiers are fighting in afghanistan and Iraq under wars that were not declared by our congress, unconstitutional wars

We are being scammed pulling the race card when its not valid its running out of steam, i dont want to go along with this palin can kiss my @ss republicans and democrats are all liars, LYING REPS at these town hall meetings are fired. the media are a bunch of wh0res bush was a vampire and obama isnt?

YEAH RIGHT

bush got the job because he was a criminal, obama is a criminal,

you think chicago runs smooth COME HERE, TRY TO LIVE HERE UNDER napoleon daley- you can run people over all day with a truck and not hit a single republican, nobody here is armed but everybody is getting shot at by a cop or a robber WTF his answer is get the guns off the street D@MMIT I DONT WANT TO GO OUT NOW WITHOUT ONE!

YOU KNOW HOW YOU CAN TELL IF A POLITICIAN IS A CROOK?

he does not live in your neighborhood
his kids dont go to school with yours
he is financially invested in an industry he will be regulating and setting policy for

every time somebody gets tamiflu, rumsfeld makes some money to take back to his house that used to be a torture plantation for slaves LOOK IT UP, I WOULD LOVE TO BE LYING

i would buy carbon credits to offset myself if my name was DAVID BLOOD or AL GORE

stop letting the parties pimp you, its GRAND THEFT AMERICA!

No More!

CONYERS SAYS THEY DONT READ THE BILLS - I CANT BE A LIBERAL ANYMORE EVEN IF I TRIED its on youtube he was at THE PRESS CLUB they should have booed
what is going on!!!!!!!!!
WTFOMGBBQ!

FREEDOM IS THE RIGHT TO SAY

NO!
NO!
NO!

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE ----> REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS .......

WE ARE A REPUBLIC NOT A DEMOCRACY - DEMOCRACY IS MAJORITY RULE, TYRANNY FOR THE MINORITY

You want happy town hall meetings

ARREST THE BANKERS, ARREST GEITHNER AND THAT SNAKE FROM GOLDMAN SACHS STOP PRINTING MONEY FOR BLACKWATER AND BLOWING UP IRAQI BABIES

STOP FUNDING TERRORIST GOVERNMENTS, STOP ASSASINATING OTHER PEOPLES LEADERS AND OUR OWN, TELL THE CIA TO LEAVE IRAN ALONE, LET THEM HANDLE THEIR OWN SH!T

STOP KISSING THE @SSES OF THE SAUDIS AND THE ZIONISTS figure out what zionism is, its not judaism STOP BLAMING JEWS, ARABS WHITES BLACKS WHOEVER

READ THE GOSH DARN CONSTITUTION!

to all the self reichous LIBERALS and TREE HUGGING EARTH WORSHIPPERS --guess what--- the navy is about to start doing drills off THE ENTIRE AMERICAN COAST = BOTH COASTS they will be testing

DEPLETED URANIUM AND TOXIC CHEMICALS its estimated to kill a MILLION furry things and swimming things and trees and search
"Special Report on US Navy Warfare Training off the California Coast" not iraq but HERE wales and dolphins youtube it, if it does not make you want to show up to a town hall mad then you dont REALLY care about mother earth you just like your little mercury lightbulbs

The majority of Americans are opposed to Obama's scheme on healthcare reform. All the money we have put into education in country and democrats still can't even read in congress to say nothing of the IQ level.

MR OBAMA DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT ALL IS IN THE "HEALTHCARE REFORM" AKA "GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER" BILL. (NOTICE I DIDN'T CALL HIM PRESIDENT). HE IS SHAMEFUL IN HIS EFFORTS TO SHOVE BIG GOVERNMENT DOWN OUR THROATS. I SAY NO. WE AS REAL AMERICANS HAVE TO STAND UP AND SAY NO. GEE - A MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE AND ANYTHING GOES? NO. I THINK THIS IS STILL AMERICA AND WE STAND UP AND SAY NO.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: