According to USA Today’s Susan Page, soon-to-be former Sen. Jim Webb told a breakfast crowd at a Bloomberg event in Washington that the President’s “‘biggest downside’ politically is [health care reform]; ‘cost Obama a lot of credibility as a leader.'”
That comes as a bit of a surprise, as Mr. Webb voted for Obamacare in the Senate and has managed to avoid any efforts to repeal it. Then again, Webb no longer has to rationalize his rhetoric with his voting record, though I’m sure Tim Kaine wishes Webb had either chosen his words more carefully, or, better yet, had a second helping of waffles instead of going near a mic.
Jumping on Webb’s remarks, RNC chairman Reince Priebus issued a brief statement:
“Even members of President Obama’s own party are now saying that he has ‘lost credibility as a leader’ by focusing on a big government health care bill rather than restoring the economy in Virginia. In November, Virginians will remember that President Obama has done nothing but distract voters with politics, and that he did not live up to his promises.”
Perhaps. On a press call a week or so ago regarding the EPA’s new, and economically destructive, regulations on coal-burning power plants, Virginia Victory chairman Pete Snyder said it reflected a kept promise — the President said he would put the coal barons out of business and the new regs could do just that.
I suggest that the President’s health care law — laden with mandates, taxes, fees, penalties, hoops, garters and more — is also a promise kept. Another economically destructive one, to be sure. But still, it’s one that sits well within the President’s long-held aim of “reshap[ing] America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous.”
The health care law was a “reshaping” alright. And the generosity? It comes from the state via wealth transfer, backed by the penalty of law.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why Jim Webb — an otherwise reliable vote for this legislative monstrosity — thinks the President’s credibility has suffered. It’s not the ballooning costs of the law. Or even that its path through Congress was so tortured.
It runs up against Webb’s “born fighting” narrative of rugged individualists seeking to carve a life for themselves out of the wilderness, and against an overweening elite. Webb the politician could rationalize the two. Webb the author and commentator cannot.