President Obama was a sorry sight on the evening of Nov. 7, trying to bond with his fellow Americans in their disgust at the rollout of his unique and much-treasured gift to the people, and he has much to be sorry about.
He was indeed sorry, but not for the things he said that he was, and most of the things he was sorry for couldn’t be named.
He was sorry the website had crashed, sorry his approval numbers were down around 40 percent, sorry the Democrats coming up for election next year were starting to pani, and sorry his plan was becoming so toxic that it caused the governor's race in Virginia to tighten considerably in the Republicans' favor close to the end.
He was not sorry that he had lied repeatedly when he told the American people that if they liked their doctors or health plans they could keep them, period; because, if he hadn't, he'd be back in Chicago (and/or Hawaii) as a youthful ex-president, writing his memoir about how the American people weren't up to his standards and thus let him down in the end.
He couldn’t say that, so he said instead that those complaining about losing their policies didn’t know yet he had done them a favor, as their old policies were substandard (or “crappy,” in the patois of his defenders), and the ones they could buy on the exchanges once the website was up were so much cheaper and better.
This in spite of the fact that most of them said that the substitutes they had seen offered less coverage for a whole lot more money.
Plus, there was Edie Littlefield Sundby, the cancer patient who complained that Obamacare was destroying her life-saving program of treatment. She said that the substandard and crappy old plan she was losing had already spent $1.2 million in seven years on her treatments and had never contested a claim.
Then, there’s the manner of Obama himself. NBC’s Chuck Todd, who conducted the interview, told townhall.com columnist Carol Platt Liebau he almost had to coax the apology out of him and was surprised he hadn’t himself brought it up at the beginning.
The language Obama chose deflected responsibility: “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation,” he said of the people who were losing their policies. But they didn’t just “find themselves,” he put them there, by the conscious design of his policies.
“I’ve been burned ... with a website,” he said, though it was his responsibility as the head of the government to make sure it was running properly.
True, he said that he couldn’t write code, but Franklin D. Roosevelt knew nothing of physics and he managed to assemble the right team of people to get the atomic bomb finished in time to end World War II.
As Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal suggested, Obama seemed less sorry that people were losing their policies than that they were blaming him for it and getting much too much media coverage.
He probably thought the 5 percent of the population that buys its own policies was too small a subset to get much attention, but people who work for themselves are assertive by nature and know how to work the system and media.
He is no doubt now sorry for this, and even sorrier that Sundby wrote her article in the WSJ over a week ago, putting put a human face on the damage and suffering caused by his policies. He seems sorry for much, but not the real problems. But perhaps this will change over time.Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."