There are plenty of problems with President Barack Obama that we all know of. He has been a lousy negotiator with Republicans in Congress, he continues violating sovereign nations with drone strikes, and he cracks down on whistle-blowers while claiming to have a transparent administration. Yes, these are just a few of the huge problems that anyone can fairly point out about the Obama administration and President Barack Obama himself. But what you definitely, 100 percent cannot accuse this man of, is arrogance. Why? Because it seems like every time you turn around he’s apologizing for something. Even when it wasn’t his fault.
I’m not talking about President Obama’s “Apology Tour,” a term the Republicans used to describe a series of speeches he gave in Europe to repair the damage from the Bush years. A responsible president will take the heat for screw-ups from previous administrations with foreign allies, it’s a part of the job.
I am talking about Barack Obama’s apologies for the roll-out “problems” associated with the Affordable Care Act. Yes, we all know the administration should have done a better job with the Obamacare website, and done a better job explaining the consequences of the new bill on different types of insurance. But the Republican Party and conservative pundits, using the mainstream press as a microphone have been treating this 8-week program like it’s the worst thing since Hurricane Kartina, or slavery, or Jim Crow. Take your pick of disasters that the ACA is being ridiculously compared to.
First it was President Obama apologizing for the problems with the federal healthcare website, then last week he was back at it, sad and stern faced, apologizing to Americans whose plans have been “cancelled” supposedly due to the Affordable Care Act. Obama, you’re doin’ too much.
Perhaps the president doesn’t know how else to act. He is married to the formidable Michelle Obama. I wouldn’t want to argue with her, so maybe Obama has learned over the years that the moment a problem pops up you say you’re sorry whether you’re wrong or not, and try to solve the problem on the sneak. And like a lot of things that Barack Obama does, it may be sound strategy, but it certainly isn’t particularly pleasant to watch if you want your presidents to act like leaders in the face of opposition.
I would never suggest that there is not leadership and honor in taking responsibility for your mistakes as a leader. The world would be a better place had Ronald Reagan just admitted he was wrong and said he was sorry about Iran Contra. America would’ve been saved a lot of grief had Bill Clinton apologized from the jump, instead of lying. And there can be no doubt that after being caught asleep at the wheel during America’s worst terrorist attack on 9-11 and playing the fiddle why New Orleans drowned, that George W. Bush SHOULD have been apologizing ever week. However in most cases, these failures caused a lot more trouble than Obamacare has after only eight weeks.
The majority of the Affordable Care Act has worked fine. Kids are able to stay on their parent’s insurance plans, until they are 26 years old. States that have expanded Medicare coverage for the uninsured and others, have worked out pretty well too. So a few hundred thousand mostly uninsured people have had trouble accessing the healthcare.gov website? I can’t imagine that’s any worse than their experiences in the medical system BEFORE they had any coverage.
You get a cancellation letter in your mail from your insurance provider? Guess what – that is the insurance company’s doing. They don’t HAVE to cancel policies they could simply bring plans up to federal standards and give clients time to adjust to the new rate. Is your employer cutting your hours because they don’t want to cover your healthcare? Guess what? That was happening BEFORE the Affordable Care Act. And anyone who’s ever worked an hourly wage job and had the boss send them home 15 minutes early to not pay overtime knows that game. In other words, there are certainly problems with the Affordable Care Act, but most of them have to do with our corrupt and coddled insurance and business industries. They are simply using the Affordable Care Act as an excuse to speed up screwing over the little guy which they have been doing for the last 35 years of neo-liberal economic policies anyway.
Obama could make the arguments above, but clearly it’s not in his nature. He would much rather apologize, taking the hit when the real culprits for America’s post ACA woes are the same employers and insurance providers who were screwing over the little guy before the law. Perhaps he feels being the policy martyr gives him more room to fix things behind closed doors, and if he’s correct we’ll all benefit. In the meantime it’s hard to watch Obama grovel for forgiveness again to the American public, considering that his supposed “mistake” was just trying to provide healthcare to the nation.
This article originally appeared online at the Michigan Chronicle.