The Chattering Classes Are Now in Full Chicken Little Mode


We are in full feeding frenzy mode. Politico, by my count, has no fewer than 14 front page headlines today about the great Obamacare debacle. The Washington Post’s four top news articles and its four top op-eds are all about Obamacare, and the top op-eds are uniformly panicky.

Is panic just built into political observers, or what? Ruth Marcus thinks Obama’s entire presidency at risk. Ditto for Milbank. And if that’s not bad enough for you, Krauthammer suggests that yesterday’s events spell doom for the entire liberal project. It’s almost a relief to get down to the unsigned editorial, which is merely troubled, not in full-scale meltdown (or, in Krauthammer’s case, glee).

So what causes this? It’s pretty obviously ridiculous, and I suspect that even the folks writing this stuff would agree about that if they took a breath. But they write it anyway. Are they truly that panic-stricken? Do they simply need something exciting to write? Or what?

Well, this isn’t very exciting, but here’s what really happened yesterday. Obama made a short speech and then took questions. It wasn’t the high point of his presidency, but virtually no one outside the Beltway thought it was a disaster. It was just another forgettable presidential press conference. The Obamacare website is in deep trouble, but the evidence is pretty clear that it really is getting better, and will continue to get better. Lots of people are suffering from rate shock, but not as many people as Republicans and the press would have you believe. It’s early days, and signups will continue to improve as we get closer to the deadline. Insurers are upset with Obama’s new fix, but they’ll calm down. Their denunciations yesterday were pretty pro forma.

This is a bleak moment for Obama, but it’s not his Iraq or even his Katrina. Within a few months everything will settle down. Republicans have an obvious political motive for stoking panic, but the rest of us should be a little smarter about buying into it. Okay?

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