December 9, 2013

Juan Williams thinks he's defending Obamacare by observing that it has no effect on him and the other members of the Sunday talk show pundit panel.

This is the sort of thing that a Republican would be pilloried for saying. It was yesterday's "Fox News Sunday," and the moderator Chris Wallace had just read a question tweeted by some guy named Skip. The question was "other than hope, what substantive argument do the ACA, Affordable Care Act, supporters have that the law will work as intended?" Juan Williams threw out a big word storm, but one line jumped out at me, and I will boldface it:
Well, Skip, I think you're deserving a straight answer. There's such a snowstorm of partisan politics around the ObamaCare thing right now. 
When I wrote "big word storm," above, I'd forgotten that he'd said "such a snowstorm." Normally, I'd rewrite to eliminate a clumsy repetition, but I'm leaving this one for effect.  And I'm also amused by that first sentence. To say that Skip is "deserving" of "a straight answer" is not to promise you're about to give one. I'm reminded of the way we used to laugh when Nixon said "let me make one thing perfectly clear." And I'm reminded of the way Obama et al. keep blaming others for hearing promises when, technically, there were none.

All Williams said is that Skip deserves — or, oddly, is deserving — a straight answer. He never said he was going to give Skip a straight answer, and if Skip somehow gets the impression that a straight answer is forthcoming, well, then Skip ought to sharpen his critical listening skills. And when Williams said "There's such a snowstorm," he did not say: And I'm here to guide you through the storm, Skip. The passive voice preserves the possibility that Williams himself is part of the snowstorm. Why wouldn't he be?

Back to the text:
So I'd say the number one thing I would say is....
What a locution! Why not just say what you have to say? When you say that you're going to say what you would say, it sounds as though you are dissembling.
... just look at this week. A million people went to the website as it was working. So there's obviously an appetite, a real need. 
A need?! People are required to buy insurance. The need is to comply with government force. How is that evidence of appetite? (I picture a parent saying "You're going to eat it and you're going to like it.")
30 million people uninsured. Millions more inadequately insured who can avoid bankruptcy and illnesses as a result. Number two, I think it the reason [sic] I think this is going to work is it doesn't disrupt the market for most people. Nobody on this panel is going to have their health care affected, impacted, by what's taking place. 
There it is! He looks around at George Will and Brit Hume and the AP's Julie Pace and says, hey, we're all doing fine. So what's the big deal? People like us aren't hurting! 

ADDED: Williams shouldn't get away with that callousness. Where's the empathy? And now I want to take a shot at George Will. Just before Williams got his question, Will said something that also struck me as distanced and out of touch in a way that maintains the aversion many people have to conservatives:
The education of this president is a protracted and often amusing process as it was this week. 
Oh? You were amused? Is that what this is, entertainment for you, old man, as you sit back and — whatever you do — puff on your pipe and sip your Scotch? Real people are really struggling with this. It's not funny.
As he continues to alight upon the obvious with a sense of profound and original discovery. He's alighting on what is obvious to governors. This is really why we should have governors more often than senators as president. The president is saying the trouble with big government is it's so darn big. And like a lot of big organisms, dinosaurs spring to mind. It has a simple nervous system. It's erratic, it's governed by inertia. And it's hard to move. This from a man who's devoted his life to increasing the power of government as an instrument to the redistribution of income because government is wiser than markets. And it's, as I say, highly amusing.
There are some great points in there, but why does he have to begin and end with his own amusement? I understand the temptation to sit back and find amusement in the foibles of humanity, but it's not very attractive. If people are struggling, you might want to shut up about how funny it seems to you, that is, if you want to win favor with those people and not, you know, enrage them.

Yesterday, we were looking at an article in USA Today about how healthcare.gov was incorrectly putting people into Medicaid and depriving them of the chance to buy the insurance they're supposed to buy. A commenter, David, snarking "Customer service, government style," quoted the line:
"If the Medicaid determination is wrong, consumers should file an appeal with the federal marketplace, says Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters, but she says she does not have an estimate on how long that would take."
And I said:
So people who thought they'd get the subsidy — which seemed sort of friendly like a low tax rate in a system of progressive taxation — find themselves shunted into welfare, which has to feel insulting or at least surprising, and then if they realize they aren't supposed to be there, how do they get to the subsidy they actually deserve?

This is causing so many people to feel so much anguish. I can't imagine how upset I would be trying to get this straightened out or even trying to understand if something is wrong.

And that's with no health problems. What if you had to deal with this while hurting from a physical (or mental) problem and on top of the actual malady, you had to worry about losing the ability to pay for your treatments?

There is so much suffering here. I assume it's a huge snowballing mass of problems that we are only seeing the very beginning of.

I think the Republican message should be: How dare you create such an uncontrollable machinery of suffering? How could you be so arrogant and reckless? And how dare you hide the damage that you knew was coming? What are you still hiding?
I wrote that before listening to George Will, and then when I heard him, I thought: No! That's exactly what conservatives should not say! This is the time to show empathy — if you can scrape it together somehow — to forefront the suffering, and George Will is passively chuckling over how amusing it is to see Obama stumbling and bumbling. Republicans are doomed to lose over and over again if they can't at least look like they care about people. They seem to care so little that they don't even notice how much it shows.

116 comments:

Unknown said...

Juan is the token idiot on the panel.

Paul said...

Juan obviously feels the people should just eat cake.

gspencer said...

But Geo. Bush 41 was out of touch when he saw for the first time an optical scanner at a grocery store.

"If they don't have bread [normal, market-driven insurance', let them eat cake [extremely costly, government-directed insurance]"

BDNYC said...

Although he says lots of stupid things and can sometimes be an annoyingly partisan commentator, Juan Williams is a likable guy. I've noticed he's occasionally capable of an honest and (for his team) inconvenient observation.

He's never unpleasant, and that counts for something too.

Tom Gallagher said...

The current big lie is that no one is going to take away your insurance that you spent hours on the computer and thousands of clicks to acquire. The govt, however, can hold its citizens hostage to the subsidies that make it (currently) affordable.

rehajm said...

Nobody on this panel is going to have their health care affected, impacted, by what's taking place.

I'd be willing to wager big money this statement ultimately proves false.

MadisonMan said...

Yes, everyone on the panel likes their insurance so they get to keep it. Period!

CWJ said...

Tom, its the subsidies angle that makes this just another vote buying scheme. There was little intention to solve any actual problem.

CWJ said...

If true, no one on that panel would have been affected under the prior system either. So why is that even an argument?

Incredibly callous.

Hagar said...

Juan Williams' job on the FNS panel is to be the Liberal Democrat and provide "balance" and "fairness" by defending the indefensible as best he can, but he does not do it well.

I think he really is what he appears to be politically, just not that extreme. On the program, he comes across to me as a babbling fool, who rarely opens his mouth without detracting from the sum of human knowledge.

If Mr. Ayres really wanted "fairness," he should suggest to Juan Williams that he just keep it to what he really thinks, without the cartoonish exaggerations.

Hagar said...

As for the ACA, I think Chris Wallace's dialogue, if that is what it should be called, with Dr. Strangelove Emanuel was more enlightening.

Mingus Jerry said...

In other words, "let them eat cake."

Michael said...

Professor. You highlight the fallacy of the liberal enthusiasm. They conflate demand with compulsion. By this reasoning Americans love to pay taxes because, look, millions of them are lining up at the post office on April 15.

Michael said...

Professor. You highlight the fallacy of the liberal enthusiasm. They conflate demand with compulsion. By this reasoning Americans love to pay taxes because, look, millions of them are lining up at the post office on April 15.

Michael K said...

"Juan Williams' job on the FNS panel is to be the Liberal Democrat and provide "balance" and "fairness" by defending the indefensible as best he can, but he does not do it well."

He is more likable than Alan Colmes who was the previous house Democrat. I notice that no one even breathes the thought that Juan is an example of the racial solidarity that may not speak its name.

Zeke was the star of the show.

Brando said...

Hey, none of us sitting here got shot in Iraq, so why is everyone complaining about the war?

Andy Freeman said...

> He's never unpleasant, and that counts for something too.

It's like the difference between being hanged with a manila rope and a silken rope.

Brando said...

Just think of all the trouble Obama might have avoided if instead of saying "If you like your insurance, you get to keep your insurance, PERIOD!" he had said "If you like your insurance, you get to keep your insurance, DOT DOT DOT!" Most people would have just assumed the rest of that sentence was something totally unrelated.

Hagar said...

Alan Colmes is still on O'Reilly, but I think the Media Watch, or whatever, has been cancelled.
True, Colmes is just acts stupid and obnoxious, and Williams at least means well.

Andy Freeman said...

> But Geo. Bush 41 was out of touch when he saw for the first time an optical scanner at a grocery store.

Bzzt. Nope. Bush 41 wasn't seeing a scanner for the first time. He commented that that particular scanner did some new things.

Of course, none of these people shop for themselves but curiously it's only comment-worthy when Repubs are involved.

The Godfather said...

The last couple of paragraphs of your post, Prof. Althouse, say eloquently what I've been trying to say (privately) by yelling and cursing at the TV or computer: This is not just a technical or political problem; it's really hurting people.

When the country discovered that the website didn't work, you started to hear politicos saying things like, Well, we're going to have to suspend the penalty tax until next Spring. But that ignores the fact that people have lost their health insurance because of Obamacare, and they can't get replacement insurance. So starting in January, they are going to be uninsured. That's very scary!

Now, as you point out, there's another group of people who may be without insurance starting in January because of a different set of screw ups -- and they may not even know it!

I don't blame George Will -- he's a commenter, not a politician. But the Republican pols ought to start complaining loudly about what's being done to their constituents, and demanding that the Administration solve this problem, and they ought to keep doing so right up through the next election.

John said...

I have a whole topic thread over on the Isthmus about how Obama may be a closet liberal (A/K/A libertarian)

This forcing people onto welfare, Medicaid, may be one more example. The entire Social Security system, as well as Medicare and Medicaid are nothing more than welfare programs.

The myth that SS and Medicare is just you getting back what you paid in is pure bullshit. The govt has no Constitutional authority to do that.

So, perhaps, by forcing more people onto Medicaid, widely recognized as welfare, it will help people realize that SS and Medicare is the same thing.

Once all these seniors (and I turned 66 last week) realize it is welfare, not "insurance" or a pension, we will start to see some discussion of it. Perhaps some good will happen.

As for Obama being a liberal, Ask yourself:

If Ron and Rand Paul were Prez and VP and had a whole house and senate full of Cruzes and Palins, would they have been able to advance the liberal (libertarian) cause as much as Obama has done?

I don't think he has done it in purpose but I am not sure. It is hard for me to believe that someone could make so many unforced errors and display so much incompetence by accident.

In either case it doesn't really matter, does it? What matters is that the liberal cause has become respected. It has grown beyond a fringe group of weirdos to the point where both parties feel threatened by it.

It is often called Tea Party but identifying oneself as "libertarian no longer means you are wacko.

Except in John McCain's view.

John Henry

John said...

Hagar said:

"At least Williams means well."

I think you forgot to add,

"Bless his heart."

John Henry

SGT Ted said...

Nobody on this panel is going to have their health care affected, impacted, by what's taking place.

Translation:

"Hurray for me! But, Fuck you guys."

Michael K said...

" But the Republican pols ought to start complaining loudly about what's being done to their constituents, and demanding that the Administration solve this problem, and they ought to keep doing so right up through the next election."

I wish I could believe that they understood how damaging this is but, like Juan, they don't realize the seriousness. Reagan said, "A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours.

Gingrich tried to make Congress subject to all the laws they passed but that faded away.

Skeptical Voter said...

Juan should know from snow. He was giving the rest of the panel a snow job yesterday.

Yes Juan Williams ia a likeable guy. Indeed as Obama observed of Hillary, Juan "is likeable enough".

But Juan's problem is that the positions he espouses were drafted by Chuckles The Clown. If you have to mouth that "snow" you'd better be likeable, because otherwise you're useless.

Biff said...

Republicans are doomed to lose over and over again if they can't at least look like they care about people. They seem to care so little that they don't even notice how much it shows.

Republicans don't get any credit when they show that they care about people. Decades of media/political narrative prevent most Republicans from being seen as anything but wealthy, mean-spirited, lady-part grabbers.

rhhardin said...

I'd say get women to up their game rather than learning to pander to women's miswired brains.

Women can do it but don't know that they have to.

CWJ said...

Althouse,

I agree with your analysis of George Will's comments.

I would add a second problem. The focus upon "this president" is wrong as well. Obama is just the spokeman for this fiasco. If anything, Republicans might manage some faux sympathy (ala Molly Ivans) for Obama being saddled with spinning this turkey.

The rhetorical object needs to be the actual architects, and those who voted for this. Congress is up for election, not Obama.

PB Reader said...

First they came for the people in the individual market, but I said it didn't affect me...

It's amazing to see what it will take for more people to start getting really upset about this such that the liberal media cannot avoid pushing for repeal.

AJ Lynch said...

Juan is distraught that Obama has turned out to be totally incompetent. So Juan will say anything to try and pull Obama;s fat out of the fire. He usually just spouts stuff like "Oh this is just the usual partisan bla bla bla".

Matthew Sablan said...

Republicans cared enough about people to want to stop this from hurting them. Fat lot of good it did them.

C Stanley said...

Agree with rhhardin (and I am a woman.)

It is stupid to blame George Will for making an observation. The pain is coming from Obama's malfeasance, not from Will. If women really need fake displays of empathy rather than facing the truth, they are ninnies and it will lead to our demise.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

One of the (few) critiques I have of Fox News is that the liberals they bring out tend to have subpar intellects. Juan Williams, Jehmu Green, egad. There are several explanations for this. Maybe top-tier liberals just don't want to give FN the benefit of their face time. More likely, having a subpar intellect is just part of being a liberal.

jimbino said...

Juan Williams is the leading pundit who can't properly pronounce his first name.

If he wants to anglicize it he shoud say "Jew-en" or just change it to something he can pronounce, like "John."

EDH said...

There are some great points in there, but why does he have to begin and end with his own amusement? I understand the temptation to sit back and find amusement in the foibles of humanity, but it's not very attractive. If people are struggling, you might want to shut up about how funny it seems to you...

LOL. Althouse goes all Joe Pesci on George Will.

tim in vermont said...

Being right about stuff is no way to get the women's vote, that much is clear.

William said...

George Will strikes the pose of a detached intellectual. What fools these mortals be. OK, it's just a pose, but Clinton's "I feel your pain" horseshit is far phonier.....Just about everyone I've ever met has been detached from my pain. I've never doubted the sincerity of those who were amused by it.

PB Reader said...

The defenders and apologists for Obama and Obamacare look more ridiculous by the day.

Gahrie said...

I understand the temptation to sit back and find amusement in the foibles of humanity, but it's not very attractive. If people are struggling, you might want to shut up about how funny it seems to you, that is, if you want to win favor with those people and not, you know, enrage them.

This is the problem is a nutshell, and one more reason for the repeal of the 19th Amendment.

When Obamacare was first proposed the Republicans said this is a bad idea and will never work. The Republican party did everything they could to prevent Obamacare from becoming law because the Republicans thought it would hurt people. The Democrats managed to get Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote in favor by using legislative tricks because the Republicans thought it would hurt people. The Republicans have spent five years trying to repeal or amend Obamacare because they thought it would hurt people, but the Democrats were unwilling to cooperate. The Republicans have been warning the American people that Obamacare would hurt them for the last five years but no one listened, and the Republicans were savaged by the press.

So now, everything the Republicans have been saying is coming true. People are getting hurt. Now Althouse suggest that those people will get mad at Republicans instead of the Democrats who foisted this travesty on the American people.

The saddest and scariest thing of all is that Althouse is probably right due to the ignorance of the American people and the connivance of the media.

66 said...

Prof. Althouse --

As I long-time watcher of FNS, I think your post re: Juan Williams only confirms that he is a poor extemporaneous speaker. He is, in my opinion, off-base in his positions, but he is not mean-spirited. I think if he were to read your post, or a transcript of his remarks, he would have phrased his remarks differently. Perhaps he should not be a panelist, but I admit to being amused by him.

Regarding George Will, your comments sound like someone who is struggling to be a fair and balanced critic. It is hard to hear Will's commentary as anything other than amusement that Obama has been hoist on his own petard -- pure schadenfreud. I don't see how you can fairly characterize Will as amused by the suffering of anyone other than Obama. Perhaps you mean that, situations that are in any way connected with suffering should never be fodder for amusement. I think that's a pretty crimped way to live life. But, c'est la vie.

Original Mike said...

"Being right about stuff is no way to get the women's vote, that much is clear."

No kidding.

Jason said...

A need?! People are required to buy insurance. The need is to comply with government force. How is that evidence of appetite? (I picture a parent saying "You're going to eat it and you're going to like it.")

She was raped, ergo she wanted it.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Is that what this is, entertainment for you, old man, as you sit back and — whatever you do — puff on your pipe and sip your Scotch? Real people are really struggling with this. It's not funny.

If you wish to slag George Will for his amusement, keep in mind it's not amusement for the poor and downtrodden. It's amusement at the education of another plutocrat, one whose daughters attend Sidwell Friends when not on staggeringly expensive vacations with Dad at taxpayer expense, and who will never himself be run through the mill of Obamacare.

Will's amusement is bitter but apt - it's a sendup of our latest 'Big Man' in office, who demagogues as a substitute for learning about governance for more than just half the country.

EDH said...

Did George Will in fact misspeak?

Would Althouse's criticisms be assuaged had Will used a slightly different word than "amused" to describe his reaction?

How about bemused?

Amused vs Bemused

Althouse-corrected George Will...
The president is saying the trouble with big government is it's so darn big... This from a man who's devoted his life to increasing the power of government as an instrument to the redistribution of income because government is wiser than markets. And it's, as I say, highly bemusing.

Original Mike said...

"So now, everything the Republicans have been saying is coming true. People are getting hurt. Now Althouse suggest that those people will get mad at Republicans instead of the Democrats who foisted this travesty on the American people."

You can either laugh or you can slit your wrists.

C Stanley said...

Remember how the Democrats were careful, when criticizing the Iraq War, not to revel in criticisms of Bush so much that they'd appear detached from the very real, horrific suffering that had been unleashed on the Iraqis?

Yeah, me neither.

gregq said...

Maybe we should be faking some empathy, but I certainly feel no empathy for anyone who didn't vote, or who voted for any Democrat at the Federal level any time in the last 6 years, who is now getting screwed by ObamaCare. They deserve it, because they're the ones who made it happen.

paul a'barge said...

The education of this president is a protracted and often amusing process as it was this week.

Oh? You were amused?


Oh? You're above schadenfreude?

I didn't think so either.

Busted

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

"This is the problem is a nutshell, and one more reason for the repeal of the 19th Amendment."

12/9/13, 11:18 AM

LMAO! Gahrie, you NEVER fail to deliver.

Ann Althouse said...

"As I long-time watcher of FNS, I think your post re: Juan Williams only confirms that he is a poor extemporaneous speaker."

But he had to have been prepared for the question because he rattled off 5 or 6 points very quickly. That speed is part of why the inappropriate remark slipped out.

rehajm said...

If people are struggling, you might want to shut up about how funny it seems to you, that is, if you want to win favor with those people and not, you know, enrage them.

Where does Will state he's amused by people's struggling, except for Obama's struggling? I have to agree with Will- when it comes to this president the schadenfreude is amusing.

...and at this point if we assume the people you believe are being enraged by Will are enraged, where else will they go? If they want more of this by voting Deomocrat, let them have what's coming to them good and hard.

jacksonjay said...


...with Dr. Strangelove Emanuel was more enlightening.

Is Dr. Death: (1) their only messenger, (2) their best messenger, or (3) their designated FOX confrontational messenger? I loved his "no one said you could have any doctor you wanted" argument!

They conflate demand with compulsion.

Command economies create command demand.

Ann Althouse said...

Will was prepared too. He expressed something significant about himself and was really more painfully un-empathetic.

If, off hand, I had to pick one of those 2 guys to trust with something that mattered to me (in my personal life), I'd pick Williams. I think if I knew the 2 of them in real life, I would like Williams more.

C Stanley said...

Will was prepared too. He expressed something significant about himself and was really more painfully un-empathetic.

If, off hand, I had to pick one of those 2 guys to trust with something that mattered to me (in my personal life), I'd pick Williams. I think if I knew the 2 of them in real life, I would like Williams more.


I find it bizarre (and a little frightening, really) that you think you could judge this in any way, shape, or form, from their public personalities

tim in vermont said...

"If, off hand, I had to pick one of those 2 guys to trust with something that mattered to me (in my personal life), I'd pick Williams."

As long as it doesn't require any math, you might add.

tim in vermont said...

This male vs female mind thing is the gift that keeps on giving for blog nattering.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

He expressed something significant about himself and was really more painfully un-empathetic.


Unempathetic, with the mighty Obama. Painful, for whom? Not the victims of Obama's 'signature' policy. If those victims saw such remarks about the salesman whose mendacity reassured them about keeping doctors and hospitals, they'd be amused and relieved simultaneously. Their spirits would be lifted during their search for sufficient tar and feathers to apply to said salesman.

Original Mike said...

"Will ... expressed something significant about himself and was really more painfully un-empathetic."

I'm just not buying this. He was amused at Obama.

"If, off hand, I had to pick one of those 2 guys to trust with something that mattered to me (in my personal life), I'd pick Williams. I think if I knew the 2 of them in real life, I would like Williams more."

While I like Juan, I wouldn't trust him with anything that mattered to me. Will, on the other hand, I would trust to make the correct, rational choice.

grackle said...

… by defending the indefensible as best he can, but he does not do it well …

Williams's problem is not that Obamacare cannot be defended "well," but rather that Obamacare cannot be defended, period. No one looks good defending it.

George Will has never attempted to be empathetic. He seems to fancy himself as above all that, an amused, highly intellectual observer of mundane political maneuvers. Another failing(for me) is his eager billy-clubbing of conservative figures like Sarah Palin because of their imagined social and intellectual limitations. But he's mostly on my side and makes good arguments so I'll overlook his callousness, even admire it - as opposed to the usual paid-pundit phony empathy.

garage mahal said...

I wouldn't trust either of them for the time of day.

MadisonMan said...

When Obamacare was first proposed the Republicans said this is a bad idea and will never work. The Republican party did everything they could to prevent Obamacare from becoming law because the Republicans thought it would hurt people. The Democrats managed to get Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote in favor by using legislative tricks because the Republicans thought it would hurt people. The Republicans have spent five years trying to repeal or amend Obamacare because they thought it would hurt people, but the Democrats were unwilling to cooperate. The Republicans have been warning the American people that Obamacare would hurt them for the last five years but no one listened, and the Republicans were savaged by the press.

So now, everything the Republicans have been saying is coming true. People are getting hurt. Now Althouse suggest that those people will get mad at Republicans instead of the Democrats who foisted this travesty on the American people.

This bears repeating, and it is the truth, but the counter is that the Republican Party offered no alternative. Think how nicely the Republicans would have been positioned if they had some viable alternative behind which they could've rallied. Instead they can be described as the party of No.

I think a good argument can be made that the inclination of the Democrats to "do something" has lead to the botchery of Obamacare. But that's a more difficult, nuanced, argument to make.

But for sure, the Republicans should be saying at every opportunity that Obamacare is hurting constituents, because it is the truth.

Sam L. said...

Snowstorm is exactly the right word for Juan's words.

Yes Juan may well be likeable, but smart doesn't come to my mind, nor even-handed, nor right-leaning.

Hagar said...

George Will makes his living as a commentator; he is not a politician.

This was one of the rare times when he has slipped up and used a word that could be twisted to refer to an alternate context, which AA promptly did.

Will Cate said...

I thought the same thing when I read Mr. Will's quote. It's not "amusing." It's depressing.

Unknown said...

Ann Althouse said, "Will was prepared too. He expressed something significant about himself and was really more painfully un-empathetic."

There was a lot of gibbering about empathy that helped get the Obamacare monstrosity passed in the first place. A fat lot of good that empathy has done.

If Will had oozed empathy and slopped over with pathos, it wouldn't have provided one electron worth of mitigation to the consequences of Obamacare.

Jason said...

If, off hand, I had to pick one of those 2 guys to trust with something that mattered to me (in my personal life), I'd pick Williams. I think if I knew the 2 of them in real life, I would like Williams more.

That's the kind of bullshit, slovenly thinking that caused you to vote to foist Obamacare and Cash for Clunkers on the rest of us in 2008, Ann.

Earth to libtard… or at least that libtard vestige that inhabits your creamy, hippie-chick center… you cannot #care your way through public policy problems.

Jason said...

Oh, so Ann has a problem with Will's seeming callousness. Will can actually find amusement in this train wreck of a law and implementation. (I think the word you're looking for is "Schadenboner."

Apparently it's "Cruel Neutrality for ME but not for THEE!!"

Thorley Winston said...

This bears repeating, and it is the truth, but the counter is that the Republican Party offered no alternative.

That’s not exactly true. When Republicans controlled Congress during the Bush administration they passed several bills to allow small businesses to form association health plans (one of the largest gaps in private insurance coverage are people who work for smaller sized employers) and to allow the purchase of health insurance across State lines. Senate Democrats killed those bills because they wanted their own “historic” plan. Republicans were able to get Health Savings Accounts (albeit too limited for my tastes) which allowed people to get high deductible policies with lower monthly premiums and use before-tax dollars to pay for the deductibles. The Bush administration granted a record number of Medicaid waivers to allow States to experiment with ways to expand coverage.

When Republicans didn’t do and what Obamacare has proven the folly of (for those who didn’t already know it) is try to pass a massive thousand plus page bill that no one understood in an attempt to fix everything at once. The approach they took (and the one we should be taking) is figure out a way to fill the gaps in coverage without causing the people who already had health insurance to lose theirs and then gradually make the changes that needed to be made to make it more sustainable over the long-run.




Hagar said...

What Juan Williams does for FNC, George Will does at WaPo and ABC News for the other side.

However, if either were to show signs of being effective spokesmen for "their" side at those venues, he would most likely soon be replaced.

n.n said...

Well, I do think it is amusing. It is with a dry humor that I observe the promises of reform in America which I previously enjoyed in the Soviet Union. I have to wonder what, exactly, the most expensive education system in the world is actually conveying, that a majority of people seem to be blissfully unaware of the precedents.

Inga said...

"This male vs female mind thing is the gift that keeps on giving for blog nattering."

12/9/13, 11:49 AM

I guess some here didn't get Boehner's memo regarding being more sensitive to women. Tsk, tsk.

Original Mike said...

"...but the counter is that the Republican Party offered no alternative."

The Democrats have said this so often, even MM believes it.

Hagar said...

This thing about "alternatives," I think is best expressed by someone's comment on Obama's speech: "He said he had presented his plan for promoting his agenda, and if the Republicans had any suggestions for a better plan to further his agenda, he would welcome hearing them," or words to that effect.

Richard Dolan said...

"No! That's exactly what conservatives should not say! This is the time to show empathy — if you can scrape it together somehow — to forefront the suffering, and George Will is passively chuckling over how amusing it is to see Obama stumbling and bumbling."

Oh, come on. Neither George Will nor Juan Williams is a political consultant running someone's campaign. Neither of them is a spokesman for the Repubs or the Dems, or for 'lefties' and 'righties' -- any more than you are for the militantly 'middle.' They have differing views about the merits of O-care (and about O-man himself), and both regularly express their views in a way that anyone listening can form his own judgment about the pesuasiveness of what they have to say.

So why is it so important for them to wrap the expression of their views in a show of 'empathy'? You didn't have any trouble following what they had to say, and can agree or not as you deem best. What's the problem in accepting the reality that the vast majority of their audience is just as capable as you in listening to what they have to say, and in forming an opinion about it?

If either of them were involved in politics, or saw themselves as campaign operatives for one side or the other (as happens on MSNBC/MSDNC often), a display of 'feel your pain' Clintonism might be just the thing. But George Will is not now, and almost surely never will be, a candidate for any political office, and is not a political operative (in the partisan sense) working for anyone. I suspect the same is true of Williams. And if Will's starchy, Princeton history professor persona and delivery, doesn't do it for you -- well, that's who he is. I much prefer that he (and Williams) just speak their minds, without a lot of silly fluff to show how empathetic they are. I'm quite sure neither of them wants anyone to suffer needlessly, and I don't need or want any display from them to try to convince me that their commentary comes from decent and caring men. I take that as a given.

So the whole idea of critiquing their commentary in partisan electoral terms - how will it sound to your average low information voter, for God's sake, if Will frames his comments using an 'amusement' metaphor !?!? -- strikes me as completely nuts.

Hagar said...

Was it George Will who said that?

garage mahal said...

I'm just glad there is a program available to the 83,000 people getting kicked of BadgerCare. What would they do without it?

PoNyman said...

Reminds me a bit of communist Russia--

General Secretary: We have the healthiest people in all the world.
Subordinate: Why do you say that General Secretary?
General Secretary: We have a huge demand on our good Russian wheat bread. Look at that line for the bakery.

paminwi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the wolf said...

"30 million uninsured..."

Williams preceded his response (such as it was) with a promise of a straight answer and started off with a liberal talking point that's been discredited multiple times.

Larry J said...

SGT Ted said...
Nobody on this panel is going to have their health care affected, impacted, by what's taking place.

Translation:

"Hurray for me! But, Fuck you guys."


Or: "I upped my income. Up yours."

paminwi said...

The context of the George Will comment is very important and Althouse totally removes the context. The comment was in regards to a video clip of Obama from the Chris Matthews interview where Obama says that the reason Obamacare isn't wotking well is because of agencies that are TOO big, outdated and inefficient. The comment about things being amusing is that the BIG GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT is pissed off that the govenment doesn't work well in this instance.

THAT IS WHAT Will found AMUSING, NOTHING TO DO WITH TRYING TO GET INSURANCE.

ALTHOUSE, OU HAVE MISREPRESENTED THIS STORY AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. I THINK YOUR LIBERALS TENDENCIES ARE REARING THEIR UGLY HEAD!!!!

http://www.hulu.com/search?q=fox+new+sunday

Section starts around 31 minutes into the show.

frang 8c said...

I am amused daily by big government liberalism blowing up for all to see, it is the only way to get rid of it..so Mr. will is correct, there cannot be enough pain, especially on the low information who elected obama, unfortunately, the pain will continue for years from the damage he is inflicting

Anil Petra said...

Everyone getting a subsidy is now on welfare. Up to 4x the poverty line!

66 said...

Speaking of the mean-spirited commentariat, I believe is possible that Ron Fournier has lost his mind: http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/clueless-heartless-and-gutless-today-s-gop-20131209

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

Your cautions about Republican's appearance (or, more properly, about what a hostile media will make those appearances into) are well said.

However, to understand Will's comment (ill-advised or not) it really helps to read it in the context of Valerie Jarrett's fatuous remark about Obama being so brilliant that he's been bored his whole life. That's really what Will is responding to with his schadenfreude.

John Henry,

You may have a point; as a perhaps-related example Teh One has won numerous gun-salesman-of-the-year awards.



MadMan,

Republicans offered no alternatives? SO WHAT???? Surely it's obvious that the status quo ante, though it had many shortcomings, was preferable to what is happening under 0'care.

"Staying with what we've got for now" really is better than "making it worse". (And of course, as others have already noted, the R's were not, in actual fact, inactive in this arena.)

douglasrogers said...

paminwi is exactly right. Besides, what right does Atlhouse have to lecture Will for finding Obama's education 'amusing.'? Will did not vote for Obama. Althouse on the other hand...Yet she know lectures on the disaster Obama is... Also, despite everything we knew about him second time round she left it right to the end in '12 before deciding not to vote for him again. Now there's a straight talker for you...

Lydia said...

Reading what Will said makes him seem rather obnoxious, in the manner of, say, Gore Vidal. But watching the video of that conversation, he doesn't come across that way at all, largely because he’s so low key, but also because the emphasis is not on his amusement, but on the craziness/stupidity of Obama's actions.

Valiant try on Althouse's part, but I don't think this really qualifies as a gotcha sound-bite.

The Godfather said...

Althouse, if you think you'd like Williams better than Will as a person, because the former is more empathetic than the latter, that's fine; de gustibus and all that -- although you might try reading some of what Will has written about his Downs Syndrome son.

But let's not lose sight of the ball: Will is right about Obamacare and Williams is wrong.

Firehand said...

Every time I hear Williams come out with something like this I want to say "I know you're willing to do ANYTHING to get back in the good graces of the people at NPR, but do you have any idea how freaking stupid(or callous, or dishonest) you sound when you spout this crap?"

david7134 said...

First, I hope that people look closely at what is happening and understand that the majority of people in the country are going to have health insurance, but not health care. There is a difference. For instance, the bronze plans, which are the cheapest, and therefore the ones that poorer people will turn to, all have $5000 deductibles. This is not affordable health care. My patients agonize over spending this kind of money on procedures and test and this will make it much more difficult to treat people before they have to seek hospitalization for disease that could have been cured with efforts as an outpatient, but for which they could not afford the cash outlay.

Now, most people that I treat, would have to mortgage their houses in order to get the $5000 for the deductible. Most doctors that I know would have worked with their patients to reduce any monetary burden, that is in the past. Now with the American people voting to socialize us, that kindness is history.

Second, the panel has not been affected by this, yet. In the next year, all Americans will lose their insurance and be forced to get government approved policies, which are not as good as those they had before.

Third, Williams is a total fool and I think he is only on the TV as he makes the liberals look so bad. He will not look at Obama objectively and has an excuse for everything the man does. This is clearly racist and would not be tolerated by someone other than black.

Grouchy Chris said...

"The passive voice preserves the possibility that Williams himself is part of the snowstorm."

What passive voice? "There's such a snowstorm of partisan politics around the ObamaCare thing right now." That's not a passive construction. It's an existential construction.

Porkopolis said...

Mr. Williams was lucky he did not make his claim while Kristen Powers was on the panel: http://www.ijreview.com/2013/10/90012-long-time-obamacare-supporter-kirsten-powers-gets-unwanted-surprise-mail/

Porkopolis said...

Juan's rhetoric would have been shot if Kristen Powers would have been on the panel: http://www.ijreview.com/2013/10/90012-long-time-obamacare-supporter-kirsten-powers-gets-unwanted-surprise-mail/

jkmack said...

I find it amusing that Ann got her panties in a wad over George Will's amusement. Are you struggling Ann? your friends perhaps? you seem awfully defensive that George is getting some amusement from the GREAT OBAMA not understanding fundamental realities.

It is commonly, at least in the blogosphere, referred to as schadenfreude, and if your going to take George Will to task on it, you might want to comment about Glenn Reynolds daily exercise of the same amusement.

but your no stranger to hypocracy then, are you...

Brando said...

A lot of commenters here seem to think that someone who voted for Obama deserves everything awful that this president is causing (and possibly a few things that he isn't causing). I sympathize with that feeling--after all, without those voters doing as they did we'd never get to see our flawed health care system start to get much worse.

But I can't get on board with that. I'm sure Obama voters voted for him for a number of different reasons--lesser of two evils, or they saw him as a nonpartisan pragmatist, or when he pledged to reform health care they figured he would usher in some actual improvements. Maybe they were naive, and should have seen that a neophyte like Obama would have let Pelosi and Reid steer the ship into the rocks, and you were wise enough to vote for McCain. But also remember that we never got a chance to see what kind of president McCain would have been. If he'd won, and then he went and invaded Iran or passed something similar to ACA (conceivable, as Romney's plan in Massachusetts was similar to the ACA), we'd be hearing from everyone who'd voted for Obama that any troops dying in Iran who voted for McCain deserved what they got, or anyone losing their insurance and voted for McCain--well, same thing.

At the end of the day, whether these Obama voters were naive or miscalculated, we're still talking about people who are watching their premiums likely eclipsing their rent payments, or worse, getting completely booted off their plans due to the botched rollout. The whole thing is grotesque, and I can't find any pleasure in seeing this happen to people whose only mistake was voting for a leader who proved incompetent.

Writ Small said...

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2013/11/if-you-cant-take-some-joy-some-modicum.html

How did Althouse go from the neutral "Is Jonah Goldberg enjoying himself too much?" in the above link to such anger over Will's far milder expression of amusement?

Charlie Martin said...

It's not funny.

Sez you. It's hilarious, in a sort of dark Gorey sort of way. We're watching someone who has been repeatedly held up as the smartest guy in the room prove himself clueless.

Simon Danger said...

How about a little more "unconstitutional" and a little less "empathy"?

Bob Loblaw said...

I'm just glad there is a program available to the 83,000 people getting kicked of BadgerCare. What would they do without it?

The only reason they're getting kicked off BadgerCare is because of Obamacare. Are you inferring that Obamacare is inferior to BadgerCare?

Achilles said...

Will is not a small government conservative. He is a part of the establishment. The same establishment that isn't all that concerned with the IRS targeting Americans for their political beliefs. Of course it is funny to him. He isn't going to have to settle for POS insurance programs that write most Americans out of top tier hospitals. He probably appreciates the Dem's efforts to keep the riff raff out of his hospitals.

As for Juan he doesn't give a crap either. He lives in the beltway with all of the other important people. Notice how these people are always focusing on the fight between republicans and democrats, not how the results affect Americans. The goal has never been effective governance. Quite the opposite.

And of course now the dem's have thrown the income inequality squirrel out in front of the truck again. Never mind all of their policies actually increase income inequality. They are fighting to erase it! Gallantly! If you vote for these people you are a jerk or an idiot. Keep sending your kids to their schools and keep complaining when they turn your kids into drooling idiots that vote for other peoples stuff. It will all shake out soon.

DR Judge said...

Does 'Candidate X' care about people like me? That's been the crucial polling question for decades. I realize that Geo. Will isn't running for office, but you nailed it Ann. The conservatives have had this problem for years (Reagan excepted).
Lack of empathy, tin ear, out of touch, whatever. (And the fable of GHW Bush not knowing what a scanner is typical media smear.) Either too aloof or too egghead (ie Buckley).

The Godfather said...

Althouse, you may say this is off topic, and if so moderate away!

But Juan Williams's stumbling language reminded me of a funny but true story.

A federal judge was conducting a hearing in which one attorney (say Mr. Smith) was interrogating a witness, and another attorney (say Mr. Jones) was representing the opposing party. The judge must have been a grammarian, because this is what kept happening:

Smith would ask the witness a question, and Jones would say, "Your honor, I'm going to have to object to that question." The judge paused, and then said, "Proceed, Mr. Smith."

Again, after the next question, Jones would say, "I'm going to have to object to that question as leading", and again after a pause the judge would say, "Proceed, Mr. Smith".

Poor Mr. Jones never got the point, even when, after one of those "I will have to object" statements, the judge said, "And when you do, Mr. Jones, I'll rule on it."

I wasn't there, but I read the transcript. Lawyers who were there, said it was hilarious -- but then they didn't like Mr. Jones.

garage mahal said...

The only reason they're getting kicked off BadgerCare is because of Obamacare

100% false. Walker booting people from BadgerCare is his own doing.

gregq said...

MadisonMan writes:

This bears repeating, and it is the truth, but the counter is that the Republican Party offered no alternative.

Oh, bullshit. Republicans have offered TONS of alternatives, like expanding HSAs, tort reform, and allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines.

The Democrats, close minded bigots that they are, have refused to even TALK about the Republican proposals. That's not the Republicans fault.

Original Mike said...

"But also remember that we never got a chance to see what kind of president McCain would have been. If he'd won, and then he went and invaded Iran or passed something similar to ACA (conceivable, as Romney's plan in Massachusetts was similar to the ACA),"

McCain had a health care proposal, and RomneyCare it weren't.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Obama sold the ACA on the lie that almost no voters were going to have their health care affected, impacted by obamacare. This premise parallels what Juan Williams said, "Nobody on this panel is going to have their health care affected, impacted, by what's taking place.". The lie is that most everyone's health care IS going to be affected. Had the public understood this before the election, Obama would never have been elected. Seems everyone's good with Obamacare as long it isn't going to affect them.

Original Mike said...

"Oh, bullshit. Republicans have offered TONS of alternatives, like expanding HSAs, tort reform, and allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines."

Oh, cut MadisonMan some slack. The President has made this claim repeatedly. And who would expect the President to lie to the citizenry?

Zach said...

How is that evidence of appetite? (I picture a parent saying "You're going to eat it and you're going to like it.")

This reminds me of the classic New Yorker cartoon:

"I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!"

http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/It-s-broccoli-dear-I-say-it-s-spinach-and-I-say-the-hell-with-it-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8562908_.htm

hoystory said...

I'd be a little more sympathetic to your complaint re: Will's callousness if you hadn't of voted for Obama in the first place.

Blinkered by "Hope and Change" you're now outraged that Will is effectively amused by your discomfiture?

scf said...

George Will has opposed this mindlessness for decades. He tries to remain cheerful and positive. There's nothing wrong with amusement at your opponent's ineptitude, even if there is deep personal damage, because outrage will not necessarily win converts to your point of view. Not everyone needs to be Mark Levin or Ann Coulter.

submandave said...

"[Omabacare] doesn't disrupt the market for most people"

This is as big a lie as "you can keep your plan/you can keep you doctor". My employer self-insures, so I am not forced into the Obamacare exchange (yet), but next year I will pay twice as much in contributions and have twice as high (or more) out-of-pocket liability than this year. The exchange may not directly affect the larger market (yet), but all the requirements and regulation in the ACA writ large damn sure is.

Joe said...

Fine: it's been perversely amusing....

RoyBeans said...

I never look at a politician and wonder "does he care about me?". Liberal, conservative, libertarian, or green, never have I wondered about whether they actually or even sounded like they care about me.

I want to know the principles they believe in and some applications of the principles they have applied in government action. Guess that makes me ill suited for this day and age where it seems everyone wants to know how much their politician or commentator care about them.

Really folks? When you go to your Social Security office and sit down with a rep, you expect them to care about you? That is you government at its closest level, now how about the politician who will never, ever speak to you one on one? This guy or gal is going to care about you, your problems, or your family? So it is important that he "sound" like he cares to be an effective politician? So you want to be lied to. Must be, that is the only logical take away here.

Obama is your perfect politician. Not only does he "sound" like he cares about you, he will tell you how much those nasty Republicans don't care about you.

Paul Kirchner said...

One of the things Rush Limbaugh does that makes me cringe is chortle over the problems of people who don't have as much money as he does. He does this frequently on the subject of health care, implying that those who think they're one hospital stay away from bankruptcy are suffering some sort of liberal-inspired delusion. On today's show (12/10/13) he found tremendous amusement in the problems of San Franciscans forced out of their neighborhoods by wealthy Silicon Valley employees who are pushing up rents and home prices. I don't think constant cheerleading for the super-rich represents a viable path for the Republican Party. The super-rich are mostly liberals anyway.