THE SCRAPBOOK, The Weekly Standard
The late William F. Buckley famously observed that he “would sooner be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand members of the faculty of Harvard.”
Not only does this remain a sage observation, The Scrapbook would suggest extending Buckley’s cordon sanitaire further down the Charles River basin to encompass the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where economist and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber teaches.
A video of Gruber discussing Obamacare has recently emerged that explicitly confirms what critics have long known about the law, but did not expect anyone to say out loud. “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber said. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically—call it ‘the stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever—but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.” This was damning enough, but then two more videos emerged of Gruber expounding upon how the law is purposefully deceptive.
Notably, none of these videos was unearthed by the media. They were found (in plain sight, on YouTube) by Rich Weinstein, an investment adviser in Philadelphia. Weinstein was angry that his insurance policy got canceled by Obamacare, so he started looking to document all the dishonest ways in which the law was sold to voters. It didn’t take long for him to hit paydirt. “[I’m] just the average person who gets hacked off about something or has an interest about something. I think I’m a perfect lesson that any one person can make a difference,” Weinstein told Huffington Post.
The discovery of the Gruber videos by an amateur is almost as much an indictment of the media as the videos themselves are of Obamacare. Even when forced to acknowledge Gruber’s remarks, the media have focused not on their substance, but on the GOP’s opposition to Obamacare. “ ‘Stupidity’ comments renew GOP vitriol on Obamacare,” was the actual headline on the Washington Post’s website. Obamacare’s architect calls voters stupid, and somehow it’s Republicans who are accused of vitriol. You’d think the media might be less inclined to defend Gruber after the New York Times appended a correction to a 2012 op-ed he wrote, noting that they might not have published his article had he disclosed that he was being paid nearly $400,000 by the White House to promote Obamacare.
But no matter how much the media downplay them, the videos are extremely damaging. The White House has been forced to repudiate Gruber’s comments. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi actually told the Washington Post, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.” Naturally, Pelosi is lying. Video of a press conference from a few years ago quickly surfaced, with Pelosi commending Gruber and his health care analysis by name.
There is at least one honest Democrat in America, however. Doctor and former Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean found himself echoing Buckley and diagnosing Obamacare’s fundamental problem as elitism. “The problem is not that [Gruber] said it—the problem is that he thinks it,” Dean told MSNBC. “The core problem under the damn law is it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don’t fundamentally understand the American people. That’s what the problem is.”
Gruber is wrong about almost everything, by the way. Tellingly, he thinks Americans were successfully hoodwinked about the law. Unlike liberal elites, though, ordinary Americans weren’t really fooled. They have never liked Obamacare or thought it workable. You have to be a politician, a member of the media, or have a Ph.D. in economics to be that stupid.