...or we might have a classless, irresponsible President who has no compassion for cancer victims who have lost their insurance because of his policies.
To misspeak means to express oneself imperfectly or incorrectly. It implies either a careless choice of words or an unintended candor (as in a "Freudian slip"). Obama did not misspeak. As The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, the slogan was the result of careful deliberation. Whereas "some White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama's 'keep your plan' promise," "political aides" insisted upon it. The latter prevailed. In an interview with the Journal, one unidentified former official "added that in the midst of a hard-fought political debate 'if you like your plan, you can probably keep it' isn't a salable point."
The story closes by quoting a "policy expert" who shrugs off the deception:
Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the law's impact on existing insurance arrangements was "a social policy decision the government made" and the president's description of it was "pretty low on the totem pole of political overstatements."
Suppose the deliberations the Journal describes had taken place in a corporate suite rather than a government one and had concerned a commercial rather than a political advertising slogan. In that case, we'd be talking about a criminal conspiracy to defraud consumers.
Yes, it's unrealistic to expect politicians to be held to the same standard of honesty as corporate executives. But what does astonish us about the Obama administration is the relentlessness and aggression of its efforts to blame others and evade political accountability. The tone is set at the top by a president who, at age 52, retains an adolescent's aversion to adult responsibility.
Still, you'd think a political professional would recognize that Edie Sundby's story calls not for an attack but for a show of compassion, even if one lacks the capacity for the real thing.