December 31, 2013

Man of the Year? #BarackObama

If Time Mag can do its Man of the Year, and make picks for interesting reasons at time, and some fellow Texan bloggers can nominate their picks for Texan of the Year, why can't I?

And, I did, and it's you know you.


First, to give credit where credit is due, he's the first Democrat to twice be elected president with a majority, and not a plurality, since ... Andrew Jackson.

But, that's not the real reason he gets this honor here.

What is?

In a word?


Its sign-up problems this year due to computer glitches at first, but now due to wariness among 20-somethings, will go far to defining its success, or failure, in 2014 and beyond.

Carl Gibson, a 20-something liberal activist, has a good article on why he's opting out of Obamacare. He's probably speaking for a lot of 20-somethings who have looked at the cost, even sniffing the federal exchange website, or the state exchange site if available, and making a rational decision to pass.
Would you pay $5 to save $1? I didn't ace Math in school, but I do at least know that a Lincoln is worth more than a Washington. If you were presented with this deal in a store, to buy a $5 item to get $1 off another, most people don't see that as a deal. Now, multiply those numbers by a thousand, and you may start to understand why the "young invincibles" of America aren't participating in the healthcare exchanges.
That doesn't stop a Kossack Obamiac from overstating Gibson's two visits to the hospital as an adult as "a propensity for accidents." And, Carl? If you're getting lectured by both Kossacks and Ezra Klein (for not being a good citizen) you're probably doing the right thing.

That said, the actions of not just one but many Carl Gibsons will, in turn, define the success of Barack Obama, and not just his second term, but, his presidency as a whole. And, no, not the computer problems, even though they will likely suppress enrollments into 2014. It's young, educated liberals like Gibson who make the rational, non-Kossack decision to opt out that are key.

Obamacare was predicated on getting a reasonable amount of Carl Gibsons to opt in as part of cost containment. Not only is he instead opting out, he's essentially telling his cohorts to do the same and feel good about it.

Hence, since 2013 is the year Obamacare hit the road (except for all the parts Dear Leader delayed a year!) Barack Obama is this blog's Man of the Year.

As for 2014? With the delays, and the under-enrollments? As 2013 Part Deux, it will further define Obama's legacy, and likely not for the best. (Even if the White House continues to be slow in providing hard data about things like enrollments, the degree to which the website's payments to insurers issue is fixed, etc.)

And, in 2014, we're all going to be guinea pigs on whether Obamacare can provide truly affordable coverage. That said, Obamacare says nothing about providing nightmare-free coverage. And, given the way the modern insurance world works, as documented in sad detail here, it likely won't change that a bit. (It's true that the person in question benefits from being able to get insurance via Obamacare; but, that's not the angle I'm focused on.)

So far, through the end of December, Gallup polling says the uninsureds still aren't impressed.

Could Obama have gotten single-payer passed in 2009 or 2010? Possibly, if he had wanted to, and had expended real energy to do so. But, he never wanted to do either one of those, as I see it. The federal exchange website problems testify to the "real energy" issue from where I stand.

In my personal "view from somewhere," to riff on a philosophy phrase, then to riff on Charles Pierce's C-plus Augustus description of George W. Bush, the man's a C-plus LBJ.

As for me, it's relative success or failure will define exactly where he ranks in U.S. presidents overall, and especially those since Teddy Roosevelt basically invented the modern presidency.

Currently, going from bottom up, chronologically, I rank him ahead of Harding, Coolidge, Hoover (while acknowledging Hoover's bad rap), Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes.

That's 12th out of 19 presidents since the start of the 20th century. Not fantastic. And, yes, I ranked both Taft and Carter ahead of him.

And, yes, I was ranking Shrub's place in history before the end of his second term. Barring some major new breakthrough, I don't see much of a rankings change likely.


As for Time's choice? It's more and more clear all the time that Pope Francis' "liberalization" is a mix of playing around the edges and the soft bigotry of low expectations when compared with Benedict XVI.

That said, I've long said that Bush's "soft bigotry" phrase explains well the continued romance many a neoliberal, and even a few liberals, continue to have with C-p lus LBJ. (Hey, Obamiacs? I could have called him C-plus Carter.)

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