The Grand In-dis-quisition

April 3, 2010

Anne Kornblut apparently has too much high-fructose syrup coursing through her spidery veins, as she couldn’t endure the torture of Obama’s intricate answer to a citizen’s question. Apparently, answers matter not for their accuracy, but for their length. Check out this preposterous column in today’s Washington Post. (Next time Tom Yulsman suggests that the internet is killing journalism, I’ll maybe point him in the direction of this very ridiculous column.)

“We are over-taxed as it is,” Doris said bluntly.

Obama started out feisty. “Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have,” the president said.

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer – more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, “F-Map”). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as “FICA”).

And who says size doesn’t matter? But she goes on, fumbling stupidly to find something to criticize:

Always fond of lists, Obama ticked off his approach to health care — twice. “Number one is that we are the only — we have been, up until last week, the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance,” he said.

A few minutes later he got to the next point, which seemed awfully similar to the first. “Number two, you don’t know who might end up being in that situation,” he said, then carried on explaining further still.

My, that second point sure does seem “awfully similar to the first.” In fact, they’re so similar that they’re entirely and obviously distinct. Number one is primarily about the aggregate numbers. Number two is about blind and bad luck.

Kornblut would fail a simple philosophy paper, I’m afraid. I’m not even sure I’d let any of my first-year undergraduates get away pronouncements so stupid.

Alas, the press isn’t in the business of analysis much, so Kornblut retains her column. Schade.

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