As the leaves changed in 2013, so changed the perception of President Barack Obama and his signature legislation: the horribly misnamed Affordable Care Act.
After what happened in October, not even the most partisan supporters can maintain absolute confidence in this president. His credibility jumped the shark with not one, not two, but three damning revelations that reflected directly on this administration’s competency and forthrightness.
This has been one hard and bitter fall for the Obama legacy.
First came "60 Minutes" with an update on the deaths of our ambassador and other Americans in Benghazi. The best mainstream television investigative newsmagazine raised serious questions about the president and his administration. Men in a position to know went on camera and said credible warnings were given to the State Department and the Department of Defense. Yet Obama’s government was totally unprepared in Libya on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
We also still don’t know what the president did the night of the firefight in Benghazi. The White House refuses to say.
I suspect he delegated his commander in chief responsibilities to others and went to bed early or worked the phones in advance of taking Air Force One to Las Vegas the next morning for a fundraiser.
When the president awoke, however, his ambassador to Libya was dead. To his shame, the president kept the Las Vegas appointment, renaming it a "campaign stop" instead of a "fundraiser." Even today, he’d rather stonewall on what he was doing that night than admit he’s having trouble washing the blood from his hands.
Sorry to make such a brutal assessment of an American president based in part on conjecture. But you know that if the president did anything related to Benghazi that night we’d know about it already
Next up, we come to find out that the American intelligence community spied on allies, including the personal phones of foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It’s no surprise that we spy on allies. What should surprise is that President Obama defends himself by claiming that he knew nothing about it.
That’s either a stupid attempt to maintain "plausible deniability" (in which case he’s again flat-out lying to the American people) or it affirms the belief that Obama is a disengaged figurehead in his own government. Neither one is a particularly flattering scenario.
But the doozie this autumn that will cause the leaves of credibility to fall completely from the Obama tree is the stone-cold admission that the president knew he was selling us a bill of goods with the Affordable Care Act.
He said repeatedly that "if you like your (health care) plan, you can keep it. Period."
Now NBC has done a little probing of the Obama administration (pass the bourbon before I faint) and found sources "deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act" who say the administration knew early on that the president’s statements were false. These sources say that in fact "50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a ‘cancellation’ letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law." One source told NBC the number could reach 80 percent, and many of those forced out of their plans will experience "sticker shock."
There’s no wriggle room for Obama on this. The proof is in the pudding. Millions of people at this very moment are losing their insurance policies and the doctors that come with them. They will pay more now to subsidize others. The president knew this would happen, according to NBC’s reporting, but lied about it in what can only be called a classic bait and switch.
As a result, we now undergo a massive and disruptive wealth transfer from the healthy to the ill. No one knows if it will work.
After all this, who in their right mind would trust the president to tell us? Maybe the NSA should tap a few phones and give us the straight scoop.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.