Thank God for the Washington Post’s Wonkbook, a blog run by some Poindexter types who get to use D.C. buzzwords like “narrative,” “meme,” “optics” and “pivot” to make themselves sound important and in-the-know.
At times Wonkbook is insufferable, at others, it’s hilarious -- hilarious in the “they-meant-to-do-it-even-though-they-didn’t-mean-to-do-it” way.
Were it not for the Wonkbook, henceforth to be called “WB,” I’m not exactly sure how I’d feel about Obamacare. Yes, the law would still suck. But I wouldn’t get to laugh at the signature healthcare “reform” law of the Obama administration as often as I do now without reading the “they-meant-to-do-it-even-though-they-didn’t-mean-to-do-it” explanations from time to time.
It’s to WB that I owe some of my best ideas on why Obamacare is such a poor piece of legislation, and it’s also to WB’s credit that I laugh as the “wonks” contort themselves while trying to explain why Obamacare is actually a great law, just misunderstood.
For example, one of the latest laughers from the Book of Wonks’ rather silly, supercilious and condescending epistles on the Gospel According to Barack Obama comes from my favorite policy clown, Lord of the Wonks, Ezra Klein.
In a recent wonk entry, Klein does his usual bit about lies -- damn lies -- and Republicans. But what he does best is make the very argument opponents are using in opposing Obamacare. Now permit me to use one of Klein’s favorite lines of reasoning against his opponents: Klein is either: a.) too dumb to know it, or b.) he’s too dishonest to care.
The Klein post is an inside-the-beltway look at a Politico article that says lawmakers are trying to exempt themselves and their staff from the provisions of Obamacare, just as President Barack Obama has carved out exemptions for himself and for his staff.
“Congressional leaders in both parties,” Politico reported, “are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.”
The article provides a lot of back and forth commentary from insiders who are clearly worried about political fallout from exempting Congress and staffers from Obamacare.
But wait. This isn’t true, according to Klein in his post: “No, Congress isn’t trying to exempt itself from Obamacare.”
In a roundabout way, Klein explains that they-meant-to-do-it-even-though-they-didn’t-mean-to-do-it, and asserts that the writers from Politico are either, a.) too dumb to know it, or b.) too dishonest to care.
“If this sounds unbelievable,” Klein wrote, “it’s because it is. There’s no effort to ‘exempt’ Congress from Obamacare. No matter how this shakes out, Congress will have to follow the law, just like everyone else does.”
That’s how it always works for Congress, right? No matter what Congress does, they just follow the law, nothing to see here, right, folks? You see, when you get to write the laws, exempting yourself from a law is the same thing as following the law, isn’t it, Ezra?
Oh, and for good measure, Klein explains: It’s George Bush’s fault.
“Based on conversations I’ve had with a number of the staffs involved in these talks, the actual issue here is far less interesting, and far less explosive, than an exemption,” Klein condescends to report to us. “Rather, a Republican amendment meant to embarrass Democrats and a too-clever-by-half Democratic response has possibly created a problem in which the federal government can’t make its normal contribution to the insurance premiums of congressional staffers.”
Yes, that’s what happens when you pass a law before you know what’s in it -- or know whether you have to exempt yourself. And there you have one of those they-meant-to-do-it-even-though-they-didn’t-mean-to-do-it examples that WB is so adept at.
It’s absolutely hilarious that Congress, Ezra Klein and the White House are busy -- just like the rest of us -- trying to figure out what the hell the Obamacare law means for real people, who have real jobs, who have to pay real premiums, and have real health issues.
It’s nice to see them, like ordinary citizens do, try to struggle with the same uncertain effects of their own poorly thought-out legislation for a change.
And Klein is either too dumb to notice this hypocrisy or too dishonest to care about it.