If you want to know why the Obama administration failed so spectacularly to defend Obamacare in the Supreme Court last week, look no further than a 2008 statement President Obama gave to author Richard Wolfe: "You know, I believe my own bulls--t."
This arrogance may have served Obama well when he had to take on the Clinton political machine, but it has also caused many of Obama's biggest failures in office. Going into oral arguments, the White House believed that the case for Obamacare was a "slam dunk" and that they would win 7-2, maybe even 9-0. It's just the latest example of Obama's arrogance crippling his effectiveness as president.
It's not that Obama is the only person in Washington with an inflated sense of his abilities. To borrow a phrase from "Apocalypse Now," calling a person arrogant in this town would be like issuing speeding tickets at the Indianapolis 500. But while the rest of the politicians are doing 85 mph in a 60 zone, Obama is blowing past them at 180.
Here is what Obama told aide Patrick Gaspard in 2008: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."
Obama's outsize vision of his importance had an almost instant policy and political impact. Just three days after he was inaugurated, House Republicans met with Obama to talk about what the tax portion of the stimulus bill should look like. This was a huge opportunity for Obama. If he had been more flexible and bipartisan -- if he had let some Republicans write the tax portion of the stimulus, in exchange for their votes -- Republicans would have had some ownership of the economy and their criticism of Obama on the economy would have been muted.
But Obama chose a different route. He insisted that the tax portion of the stimulus incorporate only his campaign promises. Republicans would get zero input on the bill. At that meeting, Obama told then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, "Elections have consequences, Eric. And I won." Not only that, but the White House press shop made sure to leak this quote far and wide as an additional slight.
Having educated Republicans on their proper role in his Washington, Obama then turned to health care. But restive voters didn't seem to be buying what the White House was selling. Democrats lost off-year elections in Virginia, New Jersey and finally Massachusetts. Surely the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat would cause Obama to engage in some soul searching?
Nope. When Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., told Obama that the political atmosphere in his state felt a lot like 1994, when Democrats lost the House for the first time in two generations, Obama replied, "Well the big difference between here and in '94 was you've got me." Upon hearing those words, Berry chose to retire rather than run again. Democrats lost a record 63 House seats -- including Berry's -- and control of the House.
So where has Obama's arrogance gotten us as a country? Not only is his signature domestic accomplishment about to be declared unconstitutional, even if it is upheld, it did nothing to address Medicare's long-term funding problems. As a result, Medicare is set to cut doctor reimbursements by a third come Jan. 1.
Also coming Jan. 1 is a slew of expiring tax cuts that will burden our anemic economic recovery with a brand-new $5 trillion tax hike. Obama must also convince Congress once again to raise the nation's debt limit. Remember how well that debate turned out last August?
But don't worry. Obama is the most talented politician of our time. Just ask him. In 2004, after his Democratic National Convention speech, Obama told David Mendell, "I'm LeBron, baby."
So, how does LeBron do in crunch time again?
Conn Carroll is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.