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Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Noble Lie? -- By James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal

This column has been following with amusement the various equivocations and rationalizations supporters of ObamaCare have offered to avoid acknowledging plainly that Barack Obama's central premise--"If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it"--was an out-and-out fraud. "Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that" is how a New York Times editorial put it last week. The Times's news side seems to have settled on "incorrect promise."

But if the Times editors are in the market for talent, they ought to find out who wrote Sunday's editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This thing is a masterpiece:
First of all, this is a problem of the president's own making. He did repeatedly say that if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. He was three words short of the truth. All he had to add was "in most cases."
It's unlikely that this extra frankness would have hurt the political effort to sell the legislation. People understand that not everybody can be left unaffected by such a sweeping change, and Mr. Obama should have been careful not to embellish the assurance.
Was it a lie? He should have known the facts. By definition, a lie is a deliberate misstating of the truth; it is not simply something that was wrongly stated with good intentions, in this case perhaps, to make the complicated simple for public consumption. Those who believe the worst of this president will conclude that he lied; those who do not will be more charitable.
This is savory for multiple reasons. For one, adding a weaselly phrase like "in most cases" does not constitute "extra frankness." Quite the opposite: It turns a shining promise into a foggy assurance with no clear meaning. Imagine if Obama tried that with his wedding vows:

Jeremiah Wright: Will you, Barack, take Michelle to be your wife, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?

Obama: Yeah, most likely.
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