Thingish Things

Scrutiny Greets Mr. Obama

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jul• 14•11

The President's Ever-Fading Halo

 Today’s headlines focus on President Obama’s walk-out (from his own office) of deficit negotiations with House leaders yesterday.  But a potentially more consequential story today, by New York Times reporter Kevin Sack, questions not Mr. Obama’s temper, but his truthfulness.  It is the type of story easily remembered in the voting booth by undecided voters. 

Mr. Sack writes about a finding in the book “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” by Janny Scott.  Ms. Scott is a former New York Times reporter herself.  What Ms. Scott discovered in researching the Obama family story is that the President, in speeches all across the country, as a candidate and as Chief Executive, told untruths about his mother’s health insurance coverage in the weeks before her death.  The President, at event after event, in hushed tones, told audiences that his mother had been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, when in fact she had not been. She had an argument over her disability insurance, which is a significantly different thing.

Mr. Sack writes:

“During his presidential campaign and subsequent battle over a health care law, Mr. Obama quieted crowds with the story of his mother’s fight with her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition that disqualified her from coverage.

“In offering the story as an argument for ending pre-existing condition exclusions by health insurers, the president left the clear impression that his mother’s fight was over health benefits for medical expenses.

“But in ‘A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,’ author Janny Scott quotes from correspondence from the president’s mother to assert that the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.”

Here are a couple of the President’s quotes included in the story:

“I will never forget my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final months, having to worry about whether her insurance would refuse to pay for her treatment,” (Portsmouth, NH, 2009).

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.” (In debate with John McCain.)

Ardent supporters of the President will say “so what?” The issue of pre-existing conditions and insurance companies is real, so Mr. Obama’s point was valid.  The President will say he mixed up the facts. But the voting public will tuck the story away in their heads. It gives them a glimpse into Mr. Obama’s character, and they may not like what they see.  

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