The national mood has changed since the president was elected
And Peggy Noonan says Obama, uncharacteristically, has misread it.
This is big, what’s happening. President Obama appears
to have misstepped on a major initiative and defining issue. He has
misjudged the nation’s mood, which itself is news: He rose from nothing
to everything with the help of his fine-tuned antennae. Resistance to
the Democratic health-care plans is in the air, showing up more now on
YouTube than in the polls, but it will be in the polls soon enough. The
president, in short, may be facing a real loss. This will be
interesting in a number of ways and for a number of reasons, among them
that we’ve never seen him publicly defeated before, because he hasn’t
The past two weeks have seemed like a major turning point.
His news conference the other night was bad. He was
filibustery and spinny and gave long and largely unfollowable answers
that seemed aimed at limiting the number of questions asked and running
out the clock. You don’t do that when you’re fully confident. Far more
seriously, he didn’t seem to be telling the truth. We need to create a
new national health-care program in order to cut down on government
spending? Who would believe that? Would anybody?
Americans have a lot of common sense, and they’re relying on it more
lately. They’re asking themselves questions, probably trusting their
instincts more than some of our elected officials. Noonan suggests it
goes something like this:
Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress
increase the deficit? “Of course.” Will it mean tax increases? “Of
course.” Will it mean new fees or fines? “Probably.” Can I afford it
right now? “No, I’m already getting clobbered.” Will it make the
marketplace freer and better? “Probably not.” Is our health care system
in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.” Is it the most pressing
crisis right now? “No, the economy is.” Will a health-care bill improve
the economy? “I doubt it.”
Health care reform as written in the current proposals before
Congress is in trouble, and the more the details come out the more
trouble they will probably find. Noonan has good instincts and insights
on this, and what may keep people from supporting what’s coming out of
Congress. Especially making abortion an essential health benefit,
mandating their coverage, and making taxpayers fund them
Speaking only and narrowly in political t.erms, this is
so ignorant as to be astounding. A good portion of the support for
national health care comes from a sort of European Christian Democrat
spirit of community, of “We are all in this together.” This spirit
potentially unites Democrats, leftists, some Republicans and GOP
populists, the politically unaffiliated and those of whatever view with
low incomes. But putting abortion in the mix takes the Christian out of
Christian Democrat. It breaks and jangles the coalition, telling those
who believe abortion is evil that they not only have to accept its
legality but now have to pay for it in a brand new plan, for which
they’ll be more highly taxed. This is taking a knife to your own
It’s audacious. The last Gallup Poll on this showed that 51 percent
of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, the first time in a
majority in the 15 years of such polling. And 71 percent of us don’t
want our taxes to pay for abortion.
Americans in the most personal, daily ways feel they are less free than they used to be. And they are right, they are less free.
Who wants more of that?
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